MariaDB raises $25M more to expand its SkySQL cloud database platform

Cloud services continue to be a key component of how organisations remain operational even as so much else — such as physically working in enclosed offices — is forced to change because of the COVID-19 health pandemic. Today, MariaDB Corporation, the company behind MariaDB SkySQL and one of the startups leading the charge on open-source cloud databases, is announcing $25 million in funding to continue its growth.

The money is coming in the form of an extension to the company’s Series C round, and it’s being led by SmartFin Capital, a Belgian VC, with participation from previous investor GP Bullhound .

(Side note: Extensions to existing rounds seem to have become more frequent in recent months. That’s in part because extensions can be faster to close than opening and closing completely new rounds, in part because they are typically smaller amounts and in part because fundraising has become a lot more challenging and harder to do in recent months, with people travelling and meeting in person much less, and sometimes not at all.)

Notably, however, being an extension doesn’t mean the valuation is not changing. This latest infusion brings the total raised by MariaDB Corp. to over $125 million, “doubling our valuation,” CEO Michael Howard noted in a statement.

Howard didn’t reveal the exact figure of that valuation, but for some context, the company — founded in Helsinki, Finland and now co-headquartered in Redwood City, California — was last valued at €300 million ($340 million at today’s rates) in 2017, in a $27 million round led by Alibaba. That would put today’s round at a €600 million valuation ($680 million), a big leap for the startup — and for open source — in the space of three years.

Part of the boost for MariaDB’s business is coming directly as a result of the demands we’re seeing in the enterprise sector today for database-as-a-service tools built on cloud and open-source architecture, Howard noted.

“Expanding MariaDB SkySQL cloud operations is our key focus,” Howard said in a statement. “There is an addressable and immediate market need with a growing number of companies who want to enable faster innovation and agility by adopting cloud technologies and shifting database management to DBaaS solutions.”

MariaDB says that DBS Bank, ServiceNow, Walgreens, Samsung and more than 75% of the Fortune 500 customers run MariaDB in both private and public clouds, speaking to the reach of the platform.

MariaDB Corp. is not disclosing its own growth numbers — we’re asking and will update as and when we learn more — but it’s likely they have been strong, judging by the valuation hike.

“MariaDB continues to exceed our expectations,” said Jürgen Ingels, founding partner, SmartFin Capital, in a statement. “The company’s innovation in cloud database technology will help support the rapid growth in IT modernization that businesses large and small are pursuing to keep up with the world around us. We feel MariaDB is well-positioned to take a large share of the growing cloud database market as companies continue to push forward into the cloud. We are proud to invest more in MariaDB to continue their exceptional growth.”

Apart from the more immediate effects of the health pandemic, MariaDB Corp.’s growth speaks to other trends in enterprise IT that have been in play for years.

Gartner estimates that 75% of all databases will have migrated to cloud architectures by 2022 either with all-in or hybrid deployments, “with only 5% ever considered for repatriation to on-premises.”

While MariaDB remains committed to open source — indeed there is a MariaDB Foundation that includes members like Microsoft, Booking.com, Tencent and Alibaba — MariaDB Corp. has positioned itself as something of a consolidator in terms of building commercial services on top of the open-source relational database. Its acquisitions have included Clustrix and MammothDB to expand its functionality, and this funding will be used to that end as well, particularly around scaling and improving the speed of SkySQL.

“MariaDB has risen to be a household name in the IT industry,” said Per Roman, co-founder and managing partner of GP Bullhound, in a statement. “We have been particularly interested in MariaDB’s focus on bringing its flexibility, security and stability to the cloud. That’s why we’re excited to invest in MariaDB, as we see enormous opportunities for its SkySQL product.”