Database startup Drawn to Scale is closing down

Database startup Drawn to Scale, creator of the SQL-on-Hadoop technology called Spire, is closing down. Co-founder and CEO Bradford Stephens officially announced the closure in a blog post on Friday.

spirearchitecture-015-e1361407038325The company’s product, Spire, which provided full SQL support on top of the HBase NoSQL database, was one of the first products to try to blend Hadoop’s scalability with the robustness and familiarity of SQL. That’s now an increasingly crowded space (and has grown since that linked graphic was created). In March, Drawn to Scale expanded its support to MongoDB, as well.

I wasn’t shocked when Stephens told me the news — questions about the four-year-old company’s financial health had been swirling for a while — but to hear of its financial woes was a bit surprising. His account in the post pretty much echoes what I had heard from others:

“It seemed we had everything going for us — paid customers such as American Express, Orange Telecom, Flurry, and 4 others. Our technology worked brilliantly, we had a big hiring pipeline, and we had great media presence against our competitors who raised 10-100x more cash.”

He added:

“Yet five days before we signed term sheets for a big A round or sold the company, we started getting hit by a series of black swans — and we just didn’t have what we needed to recover. I’ll leave the public detail at that level, but I will say that paying employees’ health insurance out of your meager savings is a powerful incentive to change course.”

Up to this point, the company had raised $925,000 from RTP Ventures, IA Ventures and SK Ventures. There’s no word yet on what will come of the company’s intellectual property.

As Stephens — who’s now doing an entrepreneur-in-residence gig at Ping Identity and helping out other startups (including popular wardrobe app Cloth) — succinctly put it during a phone discussion, “We just don’t have the horsepower to keep running the company.”