Realm Can Expand Its Reach With $20M Investment

Realm, makers of a small mobile database that resides inside an app directly on a smartphone or other smart device, announced $20M in investment today.

The round is led by Khosla Ventures, which also led its Series A round, along with new investor Scale Venture Partners. Today’s money brings the total investment to $29M. Andy Vitus of Scale Venture Partners and David Helgason, founder and former CEO of Unity will join the board of directors.

Realm builds a very small database, less than 1MB, which is supposed to save weeks of coding work. With a few lines of code, developers can add the database to their app, says co-founder Alexander Stigsen. He says by building it right into the app instead of having to call an external database, it offers several advantages.

First of all it’s always available, even when the user is offline. Secondly, it’s super fast, and because it’s local, more private — you’re not sharing your data with a database sitting on someone’s external servers. It also saves money because as Stigsen points out, developers typically pay for those external database calls.

All of this has apparently appealed to developers. The company came out of stealth in July and claims to be running on a 100 million devices. It counts among its customers Groupon, Buzzfeed, Intuit, Zynga, Coinbase and Expensify — some pretty good company.

Stigsen says the chief competition for his company is SQLite, a product that was developed 15 years ago for military purposes and has been adapted to mobile. He says his company’s solution, built from the ground up for mobile is much less complex, and it’s built to be cross-platform compatible out of the box.

The company actually launched in 2011 as part of Y Combinator. After completing their time at the incubator, the founders went into stealth mode and took their time developing the product.

“Building a database takes a long while, which is why there is nobody else out there. We built the core technology and worked with early Beta users. It paid off by making something that’s solid,” Stigsen explained.

The company, which is based in San Francisco, hopes to use the money to double from its current 21 employees by the end of the year, and expand their markets. They also want to support additional platforms and of course, ramp up sales efforts.

Realm was started by a pair of former Nokia employees, who used to work on feature phones. The pair used the skills they honed at Nokia to build Realm.