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DataStax raises $115M to advance its data stack

The CEO of the data platform vendor, which is a leading contributor to the open source Cassandra database, details why the vendor is looking to assemble a full data stack.

Data platform vendor DataStax on Wednesday said it raised $115 million in a new round of funding, bringing total funding to $343 million and giving the company a valuation of $1.6 billion.

Founded in 2010 and based in Santa Clara, Calif., DataStax is one of the leading contributors to the open source Apache Cassandra NoSQL database platform.

DataStax provides its customers with the Astra DB database-as-a-service platform that uses Cassandra at the core. The vendor has also expanded beyond Cassandra in recent years with its acquisition of Kesque in 2021, which built event streaming capabilities with the open source Apache Pulsar technology. DataStax now uses Pulsar to provide streaming that enables change data capture (CDC) for Astra DB.

DataStax competes against multiple vendors in the Cassandra database market, including Instaclustr, which is now part of NetApp; Amazon, with its Managed Apache Cassandra Service; the database-as-a-service platform from Aiven; and open source-based ScyllaDB.

In this Q&A, Chet Kapoor, chairman and CEO of DataStax, provides insight into the direction the vendor is going and the challenges of the modern database landscape.

Why raise more money for the DataStax data platform now?

Chet Kapoor, chairman and CEO, DataStaxChet Kapoor

Chet Kapoor: Our mission is simple -- it is to serve real-time applications, with an open data stack that just works.

Developers and enterprises don't care whether the data is in a database or the data is in a stream. They want all of that together, and they want it with APIs, because that's how they work today. With that, demand for real-time applications enabled by our stack is only increasing. We're a healthy-sized company and growing fairly rapidly.

We will definitely focus on accelerating organic growth, which is the reason why we did this funding. The path to an IPO [initial public offering] also remains available to us, but there's no rush, and we will do it when it makes sense for us.

Where does the concept of a multimodel database fit into the data stack?

Kapoor: When I joined DataStax nearly three years ago, I was very surprised by how fragmented the database market is, as there is a database for every use case, and I don't think this is sustainable.

I think that the multimodel approach is the right one, and I think we have that with the Stargate API. We are serving multimodel use cases with Stargate that sits on top of Cassandra.

If you zoom out and stop thinking about these micromarkets of databases, APIs and streaming, developers just want access to data. They actually don't care whether it is moving around or whether it comes from a database.
Chet KapoorChairman and CEO, DataStax

Innovation doesn't have to happen in the database itself. It is the convergence of data at rest and data in motion; it's about making sure the APIs are very approachable by JavaScript developers, as well as making sure that Astra DB is available for many use cases.

What is your view on Apache Pulsar and the opportunity for event data streaming?

Kapoor: We took a look at all the streaming architectures out there and chose Apache Pulsar because of its multi-tenancy capabilities.

The reason why we are very focused on doing streaming is because we need to make CDC really easy for all our use cases. The other thing is, if you zoom out and stop thinking about these micromarkets of databases, APIs and streaming, developers just want access to data. They actually don't care whether it is moving around or whether it comes from a database.

We want to simplify the world of data. So whether the data is called from an API, a database or an event stream, we'll make sure we serve up the data, because developers are focused on building the app, not on how data is stored.

What do you see as any gaps in the DataStax portfolio or areas where there is a need for you to focus more?

Kapoor: You'll see other pieces of the data stack come into DataStax over a period of time. A lot of developers and customers tell us they want a full stack, because there's a lot of things that they're doing piecemeal to assemble a data stack today.

Developers are asking us to give them a way to put together a full data stack, where users can choose to use the things that DataStax recommends.

So you're going to see us grow the stack and have an opinionated point of view. The opinionated point of view means that not all of the pieces will need to come from us, but we will have a recommendation, an opinion on what we think works best.

Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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