Big Data startup MemSQL raises US$35 million

MemSQL, a database startup founded in 2011 by former Facebook engineers Eric Frenkiel and Nikita Shamgunov, has raised US$35 million in a series B round of venture funding led by Accel Ventures. Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital, and Data Collective participated in the round, which brings MemSQL's total funding to $45 million.

Speed and usability are key attributes of MemSQL's distributed in-memory database technology, which is designed to run on commodity servers and uses a familiar query language, SQL, for analyzing structured and semi-structured data. The clustered application supports high-volume online transaction processing (OLTP) and online analytical processing (OLAP) workloads.

"MemSQL, at its heart, is a technology designed to take batch systems real-time. We know that the [enterprise data warehouse (EDW)] is very important in the enterprise and it's designed to stay there. Our focus is scaling analytics around it," says Frenkiel, CEO of MemSQL.

"That's one of our biggest drivers -- you can turbo-charge an existing EDW very easily with MemSQL."

Users can store and query multiple data formats in a single database, and they can access real-time analytics through a full SQL interface. "There are no new languages to learn. It's very easy to use, and it doesn't scare anyone away," Frenkiel says.

He and Shamgunov left Facebook, prior to its IPO, with a mission -- to build a modern database from the ground up.

"We started the company as a SQL database, which, I'm not going to lie, was very out of vogue at the time," Frenkiel recalls. "Three years ago everyone was thinking that NoSQL was going to prevail and SQL was just going to fade away."

That hasn't happened, says Frenkiel, citing as examples Google's F1 database and Cloudera's introduction of an open-source SQL query engine for Apache Hadoop. "Everyone is recognizing that SQL is so important for the enterprise."

San Francisco-based MemSQL plans to use the $35 million to expand product development and go after a bigger share of the market for Big Data technologies, which IDC is forecasting to reach $32.4 billion by 2017.

Today the company has about 35 employees. Existing customers include Comcast, Zynga and Shutterstock.

"It's been a rocket-ship ride since we started the firm," Frenkiel says.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and reach her via email at

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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