Why the MongoDB IPO could be a seminal moment for the big data market

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The NoSQL database vendor reportedly filed for an IPO last week, which would make it the first company of its kind to go public

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MongoDB Inc, the New York-based company behind the open-source NoSQL database MongoDB, is rumoured to have started the process for an initial public offering (IPO).

This would make it the first NoSQL database vendor to publicly list on the stock market, which could trigger a domino effect amongst its competitors.

According to TechCrunch, MongoDB confidentially filed for an S-1 last week, a registration form required by the US Securities and Exchange Commission before a company goes public. MongoDB refused to confirm or deny the filing with ComputerworldUK.

The increasingly popular NoSQL database differs from a traditional database in that data is not modeled in a relational, tabular way. It is a popular option for web companies as it supports a growing variety of data types at scale, particularly useful for applications that require access to data in real-time. For example, logistics giant UPS now runs the tracking function within its i-parcel apps on MongoDB.

This popularity has led to an increasingly crowded vendor market, which is expected to reach $4.2 billion globally by 2020, according to Allied Market Research.

Read next: The best NoSQL database options for the enterprise

Until MongoDB reveals its financials as part of the IPO process we won't know if the company is profitable yet, but it is unlikely.

As recently as May, MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria told Forbes: "We are optimising for growth not profitability and we are fortunate that our investors are patient as we target an enormous opportunity - a $36 billion to $40 billion market growing at eight percent to nine percent annually - that is ripe for disruption."

The company has taken various steps to make its open source database more accessible to enterprise customers in recent years. In 2016 it launched Atlas to make MongoDB available 'as-a-service'.

Earlier this year, it launched Stitch, a backend-as-a-service tool to help developers integrate third-party services into their applications without having to constantly write boilerplate code or compromise security.

Read next: MongoDB enters the Database as a Service market with Atlas

With an injection of public money, MongoDB would have the instant liquidity to invest in further innovation, and take advantage of the added exposure, particularly with more cautious enterprise customers that may have been wary of NoSQL solutions.

It will be interesting to see if other big data and NoSQL vendors will follow suit and jump on the IPO bandwagon.

Noel Yuhanna, principal analyst at Forrester, believes that this IPO will definitely encourage other vendors in the space to go public.

"Absolutely, there are MarkLogic, DataStax, Couchbase, Neo Technology and Redis Labs in the hunt, therefore this IPO will boost the NoSQL market and help vendors to ramp-up their offering and sales," he told ComputerworldUK. "We could see another NoSQL IPO in the next 12-18 months."

He also sees this as continuing the momentum in the broader big data market.

"Given that Cloudera's recent IPO did well, this creates a momentum that's needed to take the big data market to the next level," he added.

Read next: Auto Trader uses MongoDB and machine learning to improve car valuation accuracy

Couchbase fueled rumours of its own IPO ambitions by putting out a supportive statement following the MongoDB news.

Couchbase chief financial officer Greg Henry said: "MongoDB is on track to become the first IPO in the non-Hadoop big data space, which stands as a pivotal milestone for the industry and provides more validation that there is life beyond analytical and relational databases."

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