Fast-growing database startup MemSQL raises $35M

MemSQL, the database startup founded by former Facebook employees Eric Frenkiel and Nikita Shamgunov, has raised a $35 million series B round of venture capital. Accel Ventures led the round — which brings MemSQL’s total funding to just over $45 million — with participation from Khosla Ventures and all of the company’s existing investors.

The company has grown fast since it launched in mid-2012, Frenkiel said during a recent interview. It has racked up some big-name customers, including Zynga, Comcast and Shutterstock, and is starting to get traction in Europe and Asia, as well. At nearly 40 employees — likely to be quite a few more soon — it’s also outgrowing its original office and set to move soon.

Frenkiel chalks up MemSQL’s success so far to the fact that its database technology is designed to handle both transactional and analytic workloads fast. Comcast uses it in front of Hadoop to provide a real-time capability that Hadoop can’t, he explained, and Zynga uses it in front of Vertica to provide transaction support to the columnar system.

“We think disk is the new tape and RAM is the new disk,” he said. That’s still a pretty controversial statement in the word of bulk data storage, but it’s probably true in a database market where speed has always been critical. And if flash storage systems catch on for primary storage like investors believe they will, companies looking for the edge in speed department will have to look to RAM.

MemSQL is also one of a handful of relational database vendors trying to capitalize on the success — and shortcomings — of MongoDB by integrating JSON support into its system. MongoDB works well for serving up data to web applications, but it lacks the types of analytic features that SQL users have come to know and love.

The decision to support JSON, Frenkiel said, “is a function of really listening to the developers and what they want.”

To learn more about MemSQL, check out this video interview with Frenkiel and this featureĀ about the company’s roots and underlying strategy.


Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user semisatch.