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MongoDB raised $150 million this morning from T. Rowe Price Associates, Salesforce, and others, making it the top startup in New York, and the most well-funded company in the big data market.

MongoDB is a noSQL database provider with some 600 customers, including hot tech startups and Wall Street’s elite firms, like Goldman Sachs. Developers use it to create a system that can store and retrieve information at lightning speeds.

“This is great for powering applications [but] not so great for complex analysis,” said Kent Bennett of Silicon Valley- and Boston-based venture firm Bessemer Venture Partners.

Shortly after the announcement hit the headlines, I reached out to Bennett, who specializes in data and infrastructure, and New York-based big data investor Matt Turck for their perspective on MongoDB’s aggressive growth strategy.


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According to Turck, MongoDB, formerly known as 10Gen, rose to prominence by targeting startups and building strong relationships with developers. Many of these developers remained loyal, and MongoDB was able to leverage this initial traction to expand their footprint into larger enterprises.

MongoDB stresses its “market leadership” in its marketing materials. This may well be true, but the company still competes with Cassandra (commercialized by DataStax). According to Bennett, Cassandra is still perceived by many large customers as “more enterprise ready” — enterprise is an area where Cassandra has done well. Bennett isn’t convinced that this means that MongoDB is an undisputed market leader just yet.

With this huge infusion of capital, MongoDB will be looking to “close that gap,” said Bennett.

Moreover, MongoDB will occasionally butt heads with Cloudera, the Silicon Valley company that is has promoted the mainstream adoption of Hadoop, although these technologies are used by developers for vastly different purposes.

“MongoDB can be used by any startup that needs a database, although it can be scaled up to be used for big data as well,” said Turck. Meanwhile, Cloudera is an option for companies who are managing “very large amounts of data,” he explained, and some companies use both concurrently.

Although rumors of a public offering are already rampant, Bennett doesn’t believe it’s an inevitable outcome for MongoDB just because the company raised a boatload of cash. Just like Cloudera, an acquisition should not be ruled out completely.

“The open-source model can be capital intensive,” he said.

This latest round includes new investors EMC, Salesforce, T. Rowe Price, and Altimeter as well as previous investors Intel, Red Hat, New Enterprise Associates, and Sequoia Capital.

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