NuoDB Scales Up Database Business with $14.2M from Dassault

It’s been about a year since NuoDB released its first product, a new kind of database software designed for the era of cloud computing.

The Cambridge, MA-based company had all of the frills you might expect for the occasion, including testimonials from early customers who said they’d put the new technology through its paces.

That roster included a technical expert from Dassault Systemes, the 3D design and manufacturing specialist that is one of Europe’s biggest software companies—not a bad friend to have if you’re trying to make a splash.

“Every Boeing you’ve ever flown on, every Airbus you’ve ever flown on … the cars you’ve driven in that get designed using 3D modeling systems, most of those are designed using the Dassault stuff,” NuoDB CEO Barry Morris says.

Today, Dassault is ratcheting up its relationship with the startup by leading a $14.2 million investment in NuoDB. It joins previous investors Morgenthaler Ventures, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, and Longworth Venture Partners. Altogether, they have staked NuoDB with $26.2 million since its founding in 2008.

The investment is a strong endorsement of NuoDB’s mission to reinvent older-style relational databases for the cloud computing era. We dove into the details of NuoDB’s approach in this profile, but the short version is that it’s an “emergent” database that has substituted the old hierarchical model for a series of smart objects called “atoms” that work together.

“It goes away from the idea that the system is centralized and turns it into a system of collaborating peers,” Morris says. “It means you can lose machines, you can add machines, you can take machines away.”

So why is a big enterprise software company like Dassault interested in this small startup? Like a lot of the other behemoths, Dassault is moving its business to cloud computing, and needs services that will help its products work in that environment.

Dassault apparently likes the results, having now gone from a NuoDB customer to become an investor as well.

NuoDB plans to use the new investment to ramp up its sales and marketing workforce, adding to the roughly 40 employees in its office near Kendall Square. The company says it now has “thousands of developers” using its product around the world, with other customers including auto parts retailer AutoZone and shipping logistics provider DropShip Commerce.

“This story is not about a product that’s kind of marginally better and we’ve got to hire the biggest sales team and see if we can take a niche. It’s technology that’s solved this really fundamental problem of scaling out a transactional database,” Morris says. “We’re out there with a fairly aspirational idea of what we can do with that.”

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