The 10 Hottest Database Startups Of 2020

Next-generation database companies are developing technologies to help businesses manage increasing volumes of data and increasingly complex data types.

Not Your Father’s Relational Database

The world will create, capture and replicate 59 zettabytes of data this year, according to an IDC forecast, with that number nearly tripling to 175 zettabytes by 2025. While just managing the sheer volume of all that data is a challenge, a growing percentage of that data is unstructured, streaming, or some other data type that can be difficult to store, manage and analyze.

The data management IT arena has seen a steady stream of startup companies offering innovative database architectures and technologies to help businesses and organizations not just manage huge volumes of big data, but also work with the increasingly complex data types being generated, collected, stored and analyzed today.

While some startups are finding ways to expand the capabilities of SQL/relational database technologies, such as running transactional analytical applications within the same system, others are developing pioneering database technologies such as NoSQL, graph, time series and blockchain.

Here’s a look at 10 database startups, some that have been around for a few years and some just out of the gate, that caught our attention in 2020.

Get more of CRN’s 2020 tech year in review.

Cockroach Labs

Top Executive: Co-Founder and CEO Spencer Kimball

Headquarters: New York

Cockroach Labs, founded in 2015, has been gaining attention with its CockroachDB distributed, relational database system that’s designed to support next-generation, cloud- native transactional applications. The company’s customers include Bose, Comcast, Equifax and Netflix.

In May, Cockroach raised $86.6 million in a Series D round of financing, bringing the New York-based company’s total financing to $195.1 million. The funding round was led by Altimeter Capital and BOND, with participation from Benchmark, GV, Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Capital.

In October, the startup launched CockroachCloud, a fully managed, distributed edition of its SQL database.

Dgraph Labs

Top Executive: Founder and CEO Manish Jain

Headquarters: San Francisco

Dgraph Labs develops Dgraph, a cloud-native “GraphQL” database with a graph technology backend that executes both graph-style joins and traditional SQL joins used by relational databases.

The company also offers Slash GraphQL, a fully managed GraphQL backend service for building GraphQL applications, and the Slash Enterprise hosted Dgraph database.

Graph databases are particularly useful for applications where the relationships between the data is as important as the data itself (see TigerGraph below). They are designed to not only store data entities, but also store the graph joins or relationships between those entities.

Dgraph Labs, founded in 2016, has raised $14.5 million in three rounds of funding, according to Crunchbase.


Top Executives: Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Andrew “Flip” Filipowski and Brian Platz

Headquarters: Winton-Salem, N.C.

Fluree develops a platform for what it calls “Web 3.0 applications” with a highly scalable, semantic graph database engine at its core that utilizes blockchain technology to provide secure, distributed data sharing capabilities.

Founded in 2016, Fluree has gained traction in industries where data needs to be secured at its source and shared across multiple stakeholders with provable historic integrity and inherent security.

Earlier this year Fluree launched its first partner program, the Fluree Partner Network, and completed its $6.5 million seed funding round.


Top Executive: CEO Michael Howard

Headquarters: Redwood City, Calif.

MariaDB offers the popular community developed, commercially supported MariaDB relational database that’s used for both transactional and analytical tasks. The company was founded in 2009 by the original developers of the popular MySQL database and MariaDB was originally built on the MySQL code base.

In March the company launched MariaDB SkySQL, a fully managed cloud Database-as-a-Service that also supports transactional and analytical applications. SkySQL uses Kubernetes for container orchestration; the ServiceNow workflow engine for inventory, configuration and workflow management; the Prometheus free software for real-time monitoring and alerting; and the Grafana open-source analytics and visualization application for data visualization.


Top Executive: Co-Founder CEO Arjun Narayan

Headquarters: New York

Materialize develops a streaming SQL database that makes it possible to develop applications with real-time queries and data joins that can work with live, streaming data. The database makes it possible to get low-latency query responses even as the underlying data constantly changes, incrementally changing query results as new data comes in.

Narayan, previously an engineer at Cockroach Labs, co-founded Materialize in February 2019 with Chief Scientist Frank McSherry, who earlier worked at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley.

The company has raised $40.5 million in financing, including a $32 million Series B round on Nov. 30 from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins.


Top Executive: CEO and Co-Founder Jiten Vaidya

Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.

PlanetScale has developed a next-generation database system based on the Vitess open-source database technology for deploying and managing large clusters of database instances.

In March the company debuted PlanetScaleDB Cloud, a fully managed, multi-cloud, multi-region database-as-a-service running on AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. The startup also provides PlanetScaleDB Enterprise for customers that want to run their own database-as-a-service. In June the company launched PlanetScaleDB for Kubernetes, which deploys databases directly into a Kubernetes cluster.

Founded in 2018, the company has raised $25 million in funding, including $22 million in May 2019.


Top Executive: Co-Founder and CEO Venkat Venkataramani

Headquarters: San Mateo, Calif.

Rockset offers a real-time indexing database in the cloud for developing real-time search and data analytics applications. The database works with structured, unstructured, geographical and time-series data – pulled from OLTP databases, streaming data and data lakes – to process sub-second queries at massive scale.

Founded in 2016, Rockset scored a $40 million Series B round of funding in October, with investments from Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners, bringing its total funding to $61.5 million.


Top Executive: CEO Yu Xu

Headquarters: Redwood City, Calif.

TigerGraph has develop a distributed, scalable graph database that is gaining market traction. Graph databases are next-generation, NoSQL databases that are particularly effective for applications where the relationships between the data is as important as the data itself, such as social networking, fraud detection and recommendation engines.

Graph databases are designed to store and navigate data relationships, using “nodes” to store data entities and “edges” to store the joins or relationships between those entities. While traditional databases create such joins in response to queries, graph databases do this more quickly because the relationships are maintained or “persist” within the database, according to a definition on the AWS website.

TigerGraph began offering its TigerGraph Cloud database-as-a-service in September 2019 and in March of this year launched TigerGraph 3.0. The company raised $32 million in Series B funding in September 2019.


Top Executive: Co-Founder and CEO Ajay Kulkarni

Headquarters: New York

Timescale offers TimescaleDB, a time-series relational database based on the open-source PostgreSQL database. TimescaleDB is specifically developed for ingesting, managing and analyzing time-series or time-stamped data – examples include data from financial trading systems and Internet of Things sensors.

On Oct. 29 Timescale, founded in 2015, released TimescaleDB 2.0, a distributed, multi-node, petabyte-scale edition of its database system. The new product also offers significant improvements to its continuous aggregates functionality and provides a new user-defined actions feature.

The 2.0 edition has been in beta test for some time and Timescale says one unnamed Fortune 100 technology company has been running the database across 22 servers for most of the past year and ingesting more than a billion rows of data per day.


Top Executive: CEO Bill Cook

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, Calif.

Yugabyte develops YugabyteDB, a high-performance, distributed relational database designed to power global, internet-scale applications.

Yugabyte’s main commercial product is the Yugabyte Platform, a self-managed, private database-as-a-service available on any public, private, or hybrid cloud or Kubernetes infrastructure. Yugabyte Cloud, a fully managed database-as-a-service, is currently in beta and available on AWS and Google Cloud.

In November the company launched YugabyteDB 2.5 with new multi-region database capabilities and enterprise-grade security.

Former Pivotal Software president Bill Cook joined Yugabyte as CEO in May to lead the startup’s next stage of growth. Founded in 2016, Yugabyte raised $30 million in June of this year in a Series B funding round led by 8VC, with participation from Wipro Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Dell Technologies Capital.