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June 26, 2014

Couchbase Doesn’t Take $60M Round Lying Down

NoSQL database developer Couchbase today announced a $60 million round of venture funding from venture firms, bringing its total funding to $115 million. Couchbase’s CEO Bob Wiederhold tells Datanami the $60 million will be used primarily to accelerate product development.

“We have a number of projects that we’re very excited about and that have gotten a lot of interest in the market,” Wiederhold says. “The biggest one is our mobile strategy. We also will invest more aggressively in expanding our distribution and support channels around the world.”

Couchbase launched its mobile strategy last month with the aim of putting a full NoSQL database on smartphones and other connected devices. The idea is to give developers the tools needed to build mobile apps that work whether or not there’s a good wireless Internet connection. Providing a standardized way push and pull data from various sensors and other devices that live in the so-called “Internet of Things” is also part of the strategy.

The mobile strategy is a big area, Wiederhold, but there are other places the company will be looking to improve on. “We’re making a big investment in our query language, N1QL, and overall developer features that provide developers with a richer development environment,” he says. “There’s a large number of areas where we can develop additional features and capabilities and this will give us more money to make those investments.”

Couchbase sells a document-oriented NoSQL database that stores data in the JSON data format and features a Memchached API. It’s similar in some ways to the document store from MongoDB, its chief rival in the space. While it claims to be replacing Oracle databases in enterprise accounts, Couchbase also says it’s doing a fair bit of MongoDB replacements too.

The $60 million Series E round was led by two new investors, WestSummit and Accel Growth Fund. There could be additional rounds of funding if needed, Wiederhold says, although a public IPO is the eventual goal.

“It’s relatively easy for us to raise money,” he says. “The NoSQL industry is very hot. People believe it’s going to be a multi-billion dollar industry. The leaders within that industry are hot. So we have lots of VCs that are tracking us closely and are very interested in investing whenever there’s an opportunity.”

The funding is a vote confidence not just in Couchbase, but in the industry as a whole, he says. “I think this reinforces something I and others have been saying for a while, which is that the NoSQL industry has matured to the point where there are clear leaders who have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. People universally feel MongoDB and Datastax and Couchbase are the clear leaders. Each of us are able to get significant amount of funding to allow us to invest increasingly heavily in both the technology as well as the distribution and support and I think that all of that says it will be increasingly difficult for other players to keep up.”

While Couchbase is not yet profitable, that’s not part of the plan at this point. The company is growing rapidly, having grown revenues by 400 percent from 2012 to 2013, Wiederhold says. The company has more than 200 employees and more that 400 customers at this point, and the $60 million will help solidify its role in the NoSQL market.

In addition to product development, the company will look to build its distribution channel. Most sales are handled directly today. It’s also looking to build its international presence. The company has an offices in the UK and the Far East today, and will be looking to expand into India and South America at somet point. “It’s a global market opportunity,” Widerhold says.

The Mountain View, California company has seen its ratings increase on the database ranking website, where its database trails MongoDB and the open source CouchDB offering (which is not the same product, Couchbase Server, that Couchbase develops as open source and also sells support packages against), but it’s closing the gap.

“Couchbase outshines its competitors not with a killer feature,” Matthias Gelbmann, a NoSQL consultant from Austria, writes on “It’s strength is the successful combination of essential DBMS properties: data distribution that rivals Cassandra’s capabilities, data flexibility similar to other leading document stores such as MongoDB, together with an open architecture that enables easy integration with Hadoop or Elasticsearch, and support of the popular Memcached API.”

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