Stealth-mode 28msec wants to build a Tower of Babel for databases

28msec is not your average database startup but, then again, neither is its mission. The company — still in stealth mode (until our Structure Launchpad event on June 20) after about seven years of existence — has created a data-processing platform that it says can take and analyze data from any source, and then deliver the results in real time.

The company took so long to officially launch, CEO Eric Kish told me, because it took such a long time to build. The 28msec history goes like this: The early investors are database industry veterans (one was employee No. 6 at Oracle) who, at some point in 2006, envisioned an explosion in data formats and databases. Their solution was to create a platform able to extract data from any of these sources, transform it into a standard format, and then let users analyze it using a single query language that looks a lot like the SQL they already know. 28msec is based on the open source JSONiq and Zorba query languages and will be available as a cloud service.


That’s about all Kish is willing to spill right now with regard to the technology.

As for the company itself, it has been staffed thus far primarily by Ph.Ds. in query technologies from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, where co-founder Donald Kossmann is a professor. Every year since 28msec was founded, it has hired one of his graduates to help build the product. The company brought on Kish, a serial entrepreneur, as CEO in 2012.

28msec was originally based in Zurich, but is in the process of shifting its base to Palo Alto, where Kish lives. It has raised $5.5 million in capital from friends and family, and already has paying customers.

As for the name, 28msec, it’s a reference to the time it takes for a database to access data stored on a hard disk. After the headquarters, maybe that name will be the next thing to change given the prevalence of flash and RAM as database storage media. “Seven years later,” Kish acknowledged, “it’s not relevant anymore.”