How to interpret NoSQL funding rounds…

How to interpret NoSQL funding rounds. Read on…

It’s all very tempting to gloat about the amount of money your company has raised in a funding round. Many commentators use the size of an investment to determine the likely value of the company.

I believe that approach is too simplistic though. Let’s not forget these are all privately held companies. They could be selling nothing and we’d never know. Is there another explanation other than success? I believe there could be.

If you think about it, if you’re raking in billions of pounds a year like Oracle then you don’t need private equity firms. So another explanation for needing over $150 million could be that a company is making so little money that it needs to bolster it’s ailing finances until it gets some real customers.

Looking solely at money raised it it is tempting to conclude that MongoDB is the most successful NoSQL vendor out there… It simply isn’t though. It’s a services company mostly, and one that doesn’t make much in software license. They’re simply louder than the rest.

Now consider this quote from a recent report:-

MarkLogic is the largest pure-play Big Data vendor in terms of revenue, and it has not slowed down its push for innovation in the industry, as its new semantic system illustrates.

MarkLogic is the biggest NoSQL vendor, yet we didn’t raise a huge amount of money from the market this year.

Why? Because we’re making a shed load of money from license sales! Why would we want to saddle ourselves with hundreds of millions of dollars of debt? Or massively dilute our share pile? It wouldn’t be sustainable. We’re predominantly self funding these days. Our last funding round was purely to build out the sales force – thus further reducing the need for large future outside investment.

MarkLogic doesn’t need to invest gazillions of dollars updating a product – because we’re 5 years ahead of the competition! Other vendors say they’re spending their money over the next three years so they can have the same features we’ve had for years… Of course by then we’ll still be three years ahead of them!!!

And what of the investors? Surely they’re savvy enough to spot a bad deal? Well, history shows that when companies hit a certain point on the hype cycle the normal rules of careful investment go out of the window. Remember the dot-com bubble? Just look at the number of investors who are investing in multiple NoSQL companies. They’re hedging their bets because they’re not sure themselves which businesses will survive.

In summary, caveat emptor – buyer beware. Beware those who would foolishly claim a large amount of investor debt is a sole measure of success. Personally I prefer looking for mission critical clients (not just big clients that use software in a single office in their sprawling empire).

Customers investing money in software, not services, is my preferred way of measuring success. They’re very, very careful with their money. They only spend money with a successful, sustainable vendor. Which makes MarkLogic very successful indeed.

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About adamfowleruk

I'm a Principal Sales Engineer with MarkLogic in the UK. Big NoSQL geek, but not a mindless fanboi! Author of the upcoming 'NoSQL for Dummies' book from Wiley. Also love Node.js, particularly for real time situational awareness application stacks where timely information is a must. Love Node.js packages to run http servers, supporting WebSockets on HTML5 apps, and linking to IM platforms like Jabber. I'm the creator of MLJS and MLDotNet, wrappers in JavaScript and .NET, respectively, for the MarkLogic REST API.

3 responses to “How to interpret NoSQL funding rounds…”

  1. Steve Jones says :

    If you are the top NoSQL provider, then why does db-engines.com not rank you in at least the top 10 as NoSQL provider. Going through the list, they probably have you around 12 or 13th….

    No they don’t measure install base, but by looking at all of the ancillary activity, they can make a very good approximation as to where MarkLogic fits…

    • adamfowleruk says :

      Actually MarkLogic is down at 38th position. 8o) Worse than you think, so thanks for the promotion!

      If you look at their page on how their rankings are computed ( http://db-engines.com/en/ranking_definition ), a lot of it is around mentions on LinkedIn profiles as skills, Google Trends, and things like StackOverflow questions posed.

      MarkLogic currently uses an internal mailing list for support, which although very active will never be picked up on this assessment. Similarly, people put XML, XQuery and XSLT down as skills, rather than MarkLogic. A good analogy is the number of people who mention ‘SQL’ rather than just ‘Oracle’ as a skill. Oracle doesn’t suffer on db-engines because the name is used in many other contexts on the web, and when comparing other products to its own.

      Don’t take our (MarkLogic’s) word for it though. Recent analyst reports have mentioned our prevalence too. Gartner’s recent 21 Oct 2013 Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems for the first time includes NoSQL vendors, with MarkLogic being the closest NoSQL vendor to the big relational guns of Oracle, MS, IBM, and SAP. (And the only one not to be bashed by the analysts, having read the full report.)

      There’s also a great and very detailed wikibon analysis of MarkLogic showing MarkLogic is leading the pack with the most true Enterprise customers: http://wikibon.org/wiki/v/MarkLogic_7_Leads_the_NoSQL_Class%2C_Adding_Semantics_and_Other_Enhancements

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