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Our Data Says That the Times Are A-Changin’

October 7, 2013

I noticed this article over at The Register, and I think it’s worth mentioning.  A database that very few people have ever touched is continuing to pull in serious investment dollars, and has a value well above similar past players… and even the experts can’t precisely say why.  The database (and company) is MongoDB, and it’s a new example of how data is being processed.

With this round, the company has taken in $231m of funding to date. The deal values the company at $1.2bn, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to El Reg but wished to remain anonymous.

By comparison, Sun paid $1bn for relational database MySQL in 2008, at a time when MySQL was far more established – it claimed 50,000 copies of the database a day were being downloaded versus MongoDB’s claim of 5m downloads over its multi-year lifetime. Based on conversations with sources familiar with the company we also believe MySQL was making significantly more money at the time of its acquisition than MongoDB made in 2012.

Disclaimer: I do some work with MongoDB as a company, I’m not basing any of this opinion on internal knowledge of the company, but rather my understanding of the sector.

So how can a small database with a few million copies out there (and many less in deployment) be such a difference-maker?  It has to do with the way people can use it.  Most databases in action today rely on very tight formatting of the data that allows them to rapidly search data and find related data.  Mongo and other players don’t require such tight formatting, allowing the data to sit in natural state.  Big text documents?  Sure drop them in.  Image data with some tags?  Go for it.  Some summary Facebook comments that liked an item?  Yep.  The searches take a significantly longer time, but the natural data enables a broader link to relational items.

The players in this particular space are mostly new, with many on the target list for acquisition in the near future.  But a sudden valuation of over a billion makes the market all that much more likely to solidify soon, before the value goes any higher.  “Big Data” is a fad area right now, and that pushes the costs up even more, which makes it more likely that there will be some great disappointment by investors over time as the promises take a little longer than thought to come to fruition.

But I’m excited.  The fact that there’s enough business out there to draw investors to a new form of data analytics makes the geek in me happy to be involved in the market.  Keep an eye on these new forms of data analyses… they’re going to change your life whether you notice it or not.

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