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Andreessen pours $22M into PlanetScale’s database-as-a-service

PlanetScale’s founders invented the technology named
Vitess that scaled YouTube. Now they’re selling it to any enterprise that wants their data both secure and consistently accessible. And thanks to its ability to re-shard databases while they’re operating, it can unravel businesses’ troubles with GDPR, which demands they store some data in the same locality as the user to whom it belongs.

The potential to be a computing backbone that both competes with and complements Amazon’s AWS has now attracted a mammoth $22 million successions a for PlanetScale. Led by Andreessen Horowitz and joined by the compact’s Cultural Leadership Fund, head of the US Digital Service Matt Cutts, plus existing investor SignalFire, the circular is a tall stride up from the startup’s $3 million seed it raised a year ago. Andreessen general partner Peter Levine will join the PlanetScale board, bringing his enterprise launch expertise.

PlanetScale co-founders (from left): Jitendra Vaidya and Sugu Sougoumarane

“What we’re discovering is that people we thought were at one point competitors, like AWS and hosted relational databases — we’re discovering they may be our partners instead since we’re seeing a reasonable require for our services in front of AWS’ hosted databases,” says CEO Jitendra Vaidya. “We are growing quite well.” Competing database startups were raising gigantic rounds, so PlanetScale connected with Andreessen in search of more firepower.

Vitess is a horizontal scaling sharding middleware engineered for MySQ that was built to run on “Borg” the predecessor to Kubernetes at Google. It lets businesses segment their database to boost memory efficiency without sacrificing reliable access speeds. PlanetScale sells Vitess in four ways: hosting on its database-as-a-service, licensing of the tech that can be run on-premises for clients or through another cloud provider, expert training for using Vitess and on-require aid for users of the open-source model of Vitess. PlanetScale now has 18 customers paying for licenses and services, and plans to release its own multi-cloud hosting to a general audience soon.

With data becoming so precious and security concerns rising, many companies want cross-data center durability so one failure doesn’t break their app or erase information. But often the trade-off is unevenness in how long data takes to access. “If you take 100 queries, 99 might return results in 10 milliseconds, but one will take 10 seconds. That unpredictability is not something that apps can live with,” Vaidya tells me. PlanetScale’s Vitess gives enterprises the protection of redundancy but consistent speeds. It also allows businesses to continually update their replication logs so they’re only seconds behind what’s in production rather than doing periodic exports that can make it powerful to track transactions and other data in real-time.

Now equipped with a ton of cash for a 20-person group, PlanetScale plans to double its staff by adding more sales, marketing and aid. “We don’t have any concerns about the engineering side of things, but we need to figure out a go-to-market strategy for enterprises,” Vaidya explains. “As we’re both technical co-founders, about half of our funding is going towards hiring those functions [outside of engineering], and making that part of our organization work well and get results.”

But while a $22 million circular from Andreessen Horowitz would be mind-blowing for almost any startup, the funding for PlanetScale could support the whole startup ecosystem. GDPR was designed to reign in tech giants. In reality, it applied compliance costs to all companies — yet the rich giants have more cash to pay for those efforts. For a smaller startup, figuring out how to obey GDPR’s data localization mandate could be an enormous engineering detour they can hardly afford. PlanetScale offers them not only databases but compliance-as-a-service too. It shards their data to where it has to be, and the startup can focus on their actual product.

Source
TechCrunch
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