Streaming data juggernaut Confluent announces $50M in Series C funding

Confluent, the company behind open source streaming data project Apache Kafka, closes a Series C round that more than doubles its total financing.

Confluent, the principal commercial entity behind the Apache Kafka streaming data platform, is this morning announcing the company's $50M Series C funding round. The round is led by Sequoia Capital with participation from previous investors, Benchmark and Index Ventures, who led Confluent's Series A and B rounds, respectively; Sequoia partner Matt Miller has joined Confluent's board.

I spoke with Confluent co-founder and CEO Jay Kreps yesterday who pointed out that streaming data and streaming data platforms have huge momentum right now. He explained that among other priorities, the new investment dollars will be put into the company's continued expansion in the UK and Europe, building on last year's opening of the company's EMEA headquarters in London. Kreps also explained the new money will help the company double down on the platform to make it as good as the team possibly can. Monies will be put toward hiring top-notch people onto the team, as well.

Confluent's press release on the funding round explains that the company had over 700% ACV (annual contract value) subscription bookings growth in 2016, nearly tripled the number of employees, and onboarded new customers including Priceline.com, Surescripts, TiVo and Zopa.

Kreps and his co-founders came from the team at LinkedIn that created Kafka. This follows in the tradition of many open source Big Data projects, including HBase and Hadoop itself, which grew out of bespoke work done at various large Internet companies to meet needs that simply outstripped what commercially available platforms could handle. The projects are often subsequently open sourced; in other cases they are re-implemented as new open source projects, with development teams dominated by other large Internet companies.

I'm no expert investor, but putting money into Confluent seems like a very good bet to me. Kafka is the dominant streaming data platform, and the company says its Confluent Enterprise product is the leading Kafka distribution. And beyond the right place/right time factor, the company has been innovating at a rapid pace.

Meanwhile, Confluent Enterprise has room to evolve, beyond the Kafka platform, connectors and various API-level additions. Just as Cloudera, for example, has been monetizing Hadoop and Spark by including components in its Cloudera Enterprise products such as Cloudera Navigator and advanced features in Cloudera Manager, Confluent will need to move up the stack as well.

If some of the $50M goes toward such work, it will be money well-spent, and very well-invested. Meanwhile, Confluent is a company led by bright, accomplished people providing real value and stoking a growing ecosystem. Keep watching them.

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