Posted on Thursday, Jan 12th 2017
According to Gartner, the global database market is estimated to be worth $33 billion in 2015. The market was dominated by traditional relational databases back in the 1990s, but in the 2000s, innovative technologies such as document databases, NoSQL, in-memory, graph databases have become popular. One such pioneer in the industry is Neo Technology, which recently joined the Billion Dollar Unicorn club.
Neo Technology’s Offerings
Headquartered in San Mateo, Neo Technology began life as a project founded by Emil Eifrem and Johan Svensson in Malmo, Sweden in 2000. Its founders realized the limitations of building a content management system using relational database management systems. They then began working together to build the first prototype of a graph database system.
A graph database is an academic computer science methodology that plots data points and the connections between them as objects or nodes on a graph. Traditional relational databases store data in rows and columns. A NoSQL database stores it as unstructured data instead and a graph database builds a network of data by including the connections between those data points.
It took them two years to build the first version of the database that they called Neo4j. Within a year, the first 24×7 production of the tool was deployed. The founders haven’t looked back since. For the next 10 years, they have continued to develop and deploy Neo4j at various organizations. In 2010, they decided to launch Neo4j version 1.0 as an open source graph database. Soon, Neo also released an enterprise edition that has been adopted globally by thousands of organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies.
Today Neo Technology enables organizations to understand the value of connections, influences, and relationships in data. It is able to deploy the learnings into new applications that adapt to changing business needs and enable existing applications to scale with the business. For instance, Neo’s database helps online retailers to provide improved personal recommendations to customers based on the customer’s purchases and those of others. In banking, its technology is used for identity and access management and fraud prevention.
Neo Technology has seen more than 2.5 million downloads of its product as it has been adapted by more than 200 customers ranging from retailers like Walmart to financial firms like the UBS. Neo’s platform was also the power behind the uncovering of all the connections in the leaked Panama Papers. Neo Technology has more than 100 partners and a thriving developer community present worldwide that contributes to its open source platform.
Neo Technology’s Financials
Neo Technology operates on a freemium model. Its open source version is used by services such as the investigative journalists for the Panama Papers. It earns revenues through the enterprise edition that offers higher security and scalability. The company is privately held and does not disclose detailed financials. It is still not profitable, but expects to turn in profits by 2017.
It has been venture funded so far with $80.1 million in investments from investors including Conor Venture Partners, Creandum, Dawn Capital, Eight Roads Ventures, Greenbridge Partners, and Sunstone Capital. Its last round of funding was held in November 2016 when it raised $36 million from Creandum, Eight Roads Ventures, Greenbridge Partners, and Sunstone Capital at an undisclosed valuation. Analysts estimate that the round valued it at a billion dollars. The company plans to use the newly acquired funds to drive growth.
Neo Technology was a pioneer in graph databases. But it is no longer the only player. Bigger vendors including IBM, Oracle, and SAP now have their own graph database products. Neo Technology plans to list on the US stock exchange in the next two to three years. But, it is aware of the fact that it is also a lucrative acquisition target for big vendors including Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Salesforce, which would benefit from the impressive technology that Neo4j offers.
More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.
Photo Credit: Neo4j Graph Database/Flickr.com
This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns
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