Data-sharing platform Vendia raises $30M Series B

Vendia, a blockchain-based platform that makes it easier for businesses to share their code and data with partners across applications, platforms and clouds, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series B round led by NewView Capital. Neotribe Ventures, Canvas Ventures, Sorenson Capital, Aspenwood Ventures and BMW iVentures also participated in this round, which brings the company’s total funding to $50 million.

The company was founded by two AWS veterans: the inventor of AWS Lambda, Tim Wagner, and the former head of blockchain at AWS, Shruthi Rao. Since launching Vendia, the company added new customers like BMW, Aerotrax and Slalom, who use it to have a single source of truth for their multi-cloud data sharing with some of their partners. As Wagner noted, the company mostly focused on the financial services, travel and hospitality verticals so far, though with the new funding, it’ll likely look to expand to new verticals as well. Wagner also noted that the company recently launched a new product line around CRM data sharing and since the company is seeing a lot of traction around its file-sharing capabilities, it is also investing in that as well.

Currently, Vendia supports AWS and the team recently launched Azure support as well. Support for the Google Cloud Platform is on the roadmap, in addition to the company’s ongoing work to allow its service to connect to an ever-growing number of services.

The fact that it uses a blockchain to do so is somewhat secondary to this (and the company barely mentions it on its homepage), but it’s what allows the company to offer an immutable serverless ledger to its users to ensure data accuracy as well as provenance and traceability. Developers, meanwhile, won’t have to think about this blockchain part of the service as they only have to provide a JSON schema with the data model and Vendia will provide them with a GraphQL API to work with this data.

Image Credits: Vendia

“At the end of the day, our customers have real problems,” Wagner said. “They don’t have a blockchain problem — they’re trying to sell tickets, settle financial transactions, track supply chains. They’ve got real challenges.”

Once the team starts talking to a potential customer’s IT teams, the discussion quickly focuses on blockchains, though, and as Wagner noted, that often includes teaching them about things like immutability and lineage tracing. But for Vendia, the focus is very much on selling a solution to its customers’ problems. “For most of our customers, their core problem is that they have partners and they have problems with sharing data with control, but they don’t want to invest a lot into IT and infrastructure for it,” Rao added and also noted that in today’s job market, even big companies don’t have a lot of IT people sitting around who can take on new projects like this.

Image Credits: Vendia

“Next-gen blockchains like Vendia represent a powerful way to solve age-old supply chain challenges,” said David Bettenhausen, CEO at Aerotrax Technologies. “When connecting partners across the aviation, aerospace and defense supply chain, trust in accurate and verifiable data is paramount. The ability to deliver this trust at scale – with top-notch security and real-time data sharing in a cost-effective way – has made Vendia a critical component within our technology stack. With Vendia, we’ve been able to reinvent our business model to accommodate a frictionless customer onboarding experience and significantly reduced sales cycles.”

The Vendia team tells me that the company currently has about 100 employees and the plan is to use the new funding to double that by the end of the year.

Supabase raises $80M Series B for its open source Firebase alternative

Supabase, which bills itself as an open source alternative to services like Google’s Firebase, today announced that it has raised an $80 million Series B funding round led by Felicis Ventures. Coatue and Lightspeed also participated in this round, which brings the company’s total funding to date to $116 million.

The service can’t, of course, match Firebase on a feature-by-feature basis, but it offers many of the core features that developers would need to get started, including a database, storage and authentication service, as well as the recently launched Supabase Edge Functions, a serverless functions-as-a-service offering.

Image Credits: Supabase

As Supabase CEO and co-founder Paul Copplestone told me, the company saw rapid growth in the last year, with a community that has now grown to more than 80,000 developers who have created over 100,000 databases on the service — a growth of 1,900% in the last 12 months.

“We’re moving upmarket and finding more and more customers who are using us as a Postgres-as-a-service offering — basically as an alternative to [Amazon] RDS. And Heroku, of course, at the moment is an interesting one since so many people are looking to migrate. So basically, anyone who would be looking at a Postgres-as-a-service offering, we’re starting to see more and more of these people reach out directly,” he said, and also noted that it’s not just the database itself that users are interested in but also the company’s tooling around it, including autogenerated APIs and GraphQL extensions, as well as the ability to scale the database up as needed. “It’s really focused on making it very easy for developers to get started and build on top of,” he said.

The investors, too, are looking at Supabase because of its focus on its database. “If you look at the world’s most valuable companies, even in the current market environment, it’s either database or security, both of which, right now, are two top areas,” explained Felicis founder and managing partner Aydin Senkut. “When we look at database companies […], first of all, I need to give credit to [Paul Copplestone] and [co-founder Anthony Wilson]. They are very impressive as founders. They truly move really fast. The speed at which they ship code and impress customers is honestly at a level that I’ve only seen at companies like Google and Shopify.”

Image Credits: Supabase

He also noted that Supabase was obviously able to show impressive growth numbers, with the expectation that the team will now be able to execute on this and monetize the platform effectively. “We’re monetizing on usage of the infrastructure and it’s a very clear path to revenue and one that we hope to see a lot more growth in over the next few years,” said Copplestone when I asked him about the company’s monetization strategy.

With this new funding, Supabase plans to double its team in order to build out its platform (with a focus on enterprise features) and go-to-market strategy. Until now, most of the company’s growth has been organic.

Google donates the Istio service mesh to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation

This has been a long time coming: Google today announced that it is submitting its Istio service mesh project for consideration as an incubating project within the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

Google’s Kubernetes has long been the flagship project for the CNCF and the company recently also brought Knative, a project that aims to make it easier to build and deploy serverless applications on top of Kubernetes, to the CNCF as well. It’s maybe no surprise then that Istio, too, will likely become a CNCF project. There are still some steps to take before that happens, but chances are Google wouldn’t make today’s announcement if those weren’t, for the most part, formalities.

“For over 20 years, Google has helped shape the future of computing with its open source contributions and has invested deeply to unlock innovation for our customers,” Google VP of Engineering Chen Goldberg writes in today’s announcement. “Istio extends Kubernetes to establish a programmable, application-aware network using the Envoy service proxy. Istio works with both Kubernetes-based and traditional workloads, and brings standard, universal traffic management, telemetry, and security to complex deployments. Finding a home in the CNCF brings Istio closer to the cloud-native ecosystem and will foster continuing open innovation.”

Service meshes may not seem like the most exciting of projects, but they are often a fundamental technology for managing large container deployments. The idea here is to have a tool that can manage all of the messaging between services, which can quickly become difficult in a system where (micro-)services — and the machines they run on — are ephemeral.

With the Open Service Mesh, the CNCF is already home to one service mesh project, but the foundation has long played home to competing projects.

The Istio project launched version 1.5 of Istio in 2018. That’s often the point where vendors start looking for a foundation for their open-source project. The fact that Google didn’t do that puzzled quite a few pundits, but the Istio team then also launched a re-architected version of the software with the launch of version 1.5.

Google says it has made over half of all contributions to Istio and two-thirds of the commits.

“Istio is the last major component of organizations’ Kubernetes ecosystem to sit outside of the CNCF, and its APIs are well-aligned to Kubernetes,” Chen explains. “On the heels of our recent donation of Knative to the CNCF, acceptance of Istio will complete our cloud-native stack under the auspices of the foundation, and bring Istio closer to the Kubernetes project. Joining the CNCF also makes it easier for contributors and customers to demonstrate support and governance in line with the standards of other critical cloud-native projects, and we are excited to help support the growth and adoption of the project as a result.”

It’s worth noting that IBM, which also contributed to Istio and previously wasn’t a fan of how Google handled the Istio project by not donating it to a a larger foundation (with Oracle and the CNCF also adding to the complaints), today posted a note to congratulate the company on this move. Given the overall open-source landscape, the CNCF is the logical home for Istio.

“IBM fully believes in open governance and the power of community. Therefore, we enthusiastically applaud today’s submission of Istio to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF),” IBM’s Briana Frank and Michael Maximilien write in today’s announcement. “IBM has worked alongside Google and other key partners since the inception of the Istio project five years ago and helped to lead the open source community with our contributions to code, innovations, blog posts, documentation, and steering committee, and by leading various technical workstreams.”

AWS expands its serverless offerings

At its AWS Summit San Francisco, Amazon’s cloud computing arm today announced a number of product launches, including two focused on its serverless portfolio. The first of these is the GA launch of Amazon Aurora Serverless V2, its serverless database service, which can now scale up and down significantly faster than the previous version and is able to scale in more fine-grained increments. The other is the GA launch of SageMaker Serverless Inference. Both of these services first launched into preview at AWS re:Invent last December.

Swami Sivasubramanian, the VP for database, analytics and ML at AWS, told me that more than 100,000 AWS customers today run their database workloads on Aurora and that the service continues to be the fastest-growing AWS service. He noted that previously, in version 1, scaling the database capacity would take five to 40 seconds and the customers had to double the capacity.

“Because it’s serverless, customers then didn’t have to worry about managing database capacity,” Sivasubramanian explained. “However, to run a wide variety of production workloads with [Aurora] Serverless V1, when we were talking to customers more and more, they said, customers need the capacity to scale in fractions of a second and then in much more fine-grained increments, not just doubling in terms of capacity.”

Sivasubramanian argues that this new system can save users up to 90% of their database cost when compared to the cost of provisioning for pre-capacity. He noted that there are no tradeoffs in moving to v2 and that all of the features in v1 are still available. The team changed the underlying computing platform and storage engine, though, so that it’s now possible to scale in these small increments and do so much faster. “It’s a really remarkable piece of engineering done by the team,” he said.

Already, AWS customers like Venmo, Pagely and Zendesk are using this new system, which went into preview last December. AWS argues that it’s not a very heavy lift to convert workloads that currently run on Amazon Aurora Serverless v1 to v2.

Image Credits: AWS

As for SageMaker Serverless Inference, which is now also generally available, Sivasubramanian noted that the service gives businesses a pay-as-you-go service for deploying their machine learning models — and especially those that often sit idle — into production. With this, AWS now offers four inferencing options: Serverless Inference, Real-Time Inference for workloads where low latency is paramount, SageMaker Batch Transform for working with batches of data, and SageMaker Asynchronous Inference for workloads with large payload sizes that may require long processing times. With that much choice, it’s maybe no surprise that AWS also offers the SageMaker Inference Recommender to help users figure out how to best deploy their models.

Knative becomes a CNCF project

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is home to many of the most important modern open-source projects, including Kubernetes. Today, the CNCF’s Technical Oversight Committee announced that it has now also accepted Knative as a CNCF incubating project.

“Knative is a powerful technology that is well integrated with the cloud native ecosystem, making it easier to run serverless containers on Kubernetes,” said CNCF CTO Chris Aniszczyk. “We think the project will benefit greatly from an open governance model under the foundation, allowing it to grow even more by reaching new contributors and end users. We look forward to working with the Knative community and welcome the team’s contribution.”

Knative (pronounced kay-nay-tiv) was created by Google in 2018, but since then, a number of other industry heavyweights including IBM, Red Hat, VMWare, TriggerMesh and SAP also worked on it. The idea behind the project is to make it easier for its users to build, deploy and manage serverless and event-driven applications on top of Kubernetes. That’s very much where a lot of enterprises are currently going, too,  when they develop new applications or modernize existing ones as part of their digital transformation projects. And despite Knative still being a very young project, Bloomberg, Alibaba Cloud, Bloomberg, IBM and VMware already use it in production, while Google uses Knative to power Google Cloud’s serverless computing platform.

The project hit its version 1.0 milestone last November and shortly after, Google announced that it had submitted the project to the CNCF for consideration. Now that this process is complete, Google will donate the Knative trademark, IP and code to the CNCF.

“Following the recent achievement of reaching stability with Knative 1.0, we believe that donating the project to a vendor-neutral home is the next step in enabling the project to grow and the community to govern itself,” Said, Carlos Santana, Knative Steering Committee and DOCS-UX Lead. “We believe that the CNCF is that vendor-neutral foundation and hope that Knative’s acceptance will encourage additional companies to adopt, contribute to, and evangelize the project. It will also bring the Knative community closer to other cloud native projects in the ecosystem – including all the projects it builds on – helping to establish a virtuous cycle of feedback and features.”

Netlify acquires Quirrel

Netlify, the well-funded company that, in many ways, started the Jamstack movement, today announced that it has acquired Quirrel, an open-source service for managing and executing serverless functions.

Founded by Simon Knott, who is also the maintainer of the popular Blitz.js React framework, Quirrel never raised any outside funding before the acquisition, which quietly happened in the middle of last year after one of Netlify’s investors made the introduction, as Netlify CEO Matt Biilmann told me.

Given that it has raised quite a bit of money, making acquisitions to accelerate its growth and build out its product makes a lot of sense for Netlify right now. While a few years ago, Netlify still had to explain the concept of the Jamstack, we’ve now seen the rise of a number of competitors, including the likes of Vercel, which itself announced a $150 million Series D round in November — after announcing a $102 million Series C round in June.

This marks Netlify’s third acquisition in total. First, the company acquired the Y Combinator-backed developer collaboration service FeaturePeek in May. In November, it bought GraphQL specialist OneGraph, another Y Combinator graduate, shortly after announcing its $105 million Series D round.

Image Credits: Netlify

“It’s very clear where we want to be and where we want to go,” Biilmann said. “So, of course, it also starts making it interesting when we see opportunities from smaller startups in the space that are doing really cool and interesting stuff that fits into where we want to go and that feel aligned with the vision we have of what the web could be. For some of those, we will find great opportunities to partner and work together — and for some of those we will find that we will work even better together if we just did it all together.”

While the open source project will live on under the Quirrel name, Netlify has already started integrating into its own platform many of the ideas behind the service. The company first launched its serverless platform in 2018. Since then, it has become a core feature of its service, but scheduling functions and background tasks to run on a regular schedule still remained a bit of a hassle for Netlify developers.

Image Credits: Netlify

“Those kinds of jobs are important to what developers want to accomplish,” Billmann explained. “I think Simon [Knott] had really nailed some of the developer experiences around how do you not turn that into a lot of configurations and old school lists of cron jobs? How can you get this to feel more like writing code — and then it happens?”

Netlify, of course, operates at a completely different scale from Quirrel, so it’s maybe no surprise that the team set to rebuild a lot of the infrastructure with a focus on keeping the developer experience aligned with the original vision of Quirrel. Billmann described it as working from first principles, not just because of the company’s scale but also because Netlify has a philosophy of ensuring that the core abstractions of its service don’t depend on specific frameworks (Blitz.js, in Quirrel’s case).

Netlify’s new scheduling features based on the Quirrel user experience are now available for free through Netlify Labs, the company’s platform for beta testing new features. That means some of the features may still change and the team is still thinking about how (and if) it will charge for the service. For now, though, Netlify wants to see how developers will use the service and then build out the product accordingly.


Berlin’s Tilo raises seed round to tackle unstructured data sets with a serverless platform

As is commonly the case, datasets used inside companies almost always come from diverse sources and in different, unstructured formats. Connecting them up can lead to a be a very large headache. But if it can be done, there are all sorts of benefits, especially in finance, such as fraud detection, KYC/AML checks etc. This is a problem particularly faced by financial firms, but it could also be useful in the areas of Covid contact tracing or general business intelligence.

The main platforms used at this point include Neo4j, Senzing, or Neptune from AWS. Alternatively, companies try to build their own solutions using Elasticsearch. But it remains a big problem to solve.

Now a new Berlin startup, which has tested its theories after being spun out from a larger corporate, is poised to tackle this thorny problem.

Tilo’s data infrastructure tool TiloRes says it helps companies match data points from different sources and formats, by being both serverless and doing it in near real-time and at scale, claims the company.

Tilo has now raised €1,200,000 in pre-Seed funding led by European VC Peak Capital which put in €640,000). The funding round was joined by Berlin-based Tiny VC (Philipp Moehring), First Momentum Ventures, Enduring Ventures and Angel Investors including the founder of Algolia and the former CMO of Contentful to name a few.

Peak’s investments include global auction marketplace Catawiki, headless content management system GraphCMS, and omnichannel communications platform Trengo.

As well as applications for KYC/AML, Tilo plans to offer its solution for free to anybody working in Covid contact tracing.

Founded in November 2021, Tilo has started pilot projects together corporates and startups. As its business model, Tilo charges a license fee based on the volume of data companies are processing through TiloRes. Because its serverless, the costs scale with the usage, making it cheaper than server-based solutions.

The market Tilo is taking on is large, and worth approximately $65 Billion according to Gartner.
Steven Renwick, Tilo CEO, said: “Our biggest advantage is that searching, matching and evaluating data (e.g. when checking for fraudulent behaviour in an online payment process) happens in near real-time, no matter how much data is added, or how complicated the entities become. This is important for modern needs, which nearly always demand real-time response rates.” 

Tilo’s founding team, Renwick (CEO), Hendrik Nehnes (CTO), and Stefan Berkner (Chief Development Officer), were formerly the technology team at Regis24, a German consumer credit bureau. However, Regis24 agreed to spin out their solution and take a strategic stake in the startup.

Madeline Lawrence, Head of DACH Peak commented: “To be really honest, I didn’t grasp what Tilo was solving at first. Then I realized: we struggle with data matching ourselves. If CRM duplicates and spelling differences cause us such a headache, imagine the pain when the stakes are higher, the need is real-time, and the data in question is an order of magnitude larger.”

Lumigo raises $29M for its cloud-native application monitoring platform

Lumigo, a cloud-native application monitoring and debugging platform, today announced that it has raised a $29 million Series A funding round led by Redline Capital. Wing Venture Capital, Vertex Ventures US, together with existing investors Meron Capital and Pitango First, Grove Ventures also participated in this round, which brings the company’s total funding to $38 million since its launch in 2019.

The company started out with a focus on distributed tracing for serverless platforms like AWS’ API Gateway, DynamoDB, S3 and Lambda. But as the team announced today, it is now also expanding its SaaS service to cover containers and virtual machines.

Image Credits: Lumigo

Using the company’s platform, businesses can easily visualize every transaction in their network to understand how data flows between services — and then quickly diagnose issues when it doesn’t. It offers both a paid SaaS service (which includes a free tier), as well as a free command line tool for analyzing and tuning services based on AWS Lambda and Kinesis.

Some of Lumigo’s current customers include Medtronic, Vimeo and Sonos.

“Most other Observability platforms have just tacked serverless features onto what were essentially legacy products,” said Lumigo CEO Erez Berkner. “Lumigo was designed from the ground up for cloud-native environments, allowing us to offer deep monitoring, distributed tracing and debugging features tailored to the modern cloud technologies and expand outwards to containers and Kubernetes in a way that actually fits how cloud-native apps are designed and operated.”

Berkner noted that as enterprises adopt an ever-growing number of cloud services, Lumigo has to match this velocity if it wants to become the standard observability tool for cloud-native applications.

“Correlating millions of log lines, traces and metrics across distributed services is pretty close to impossible, and just gets harder with scale,” said Redline Capital partner Benno Jering. “Lumigo’s offering solves an ever-growing problem for cloud-native applications; understanding applications as more than just the sum of their parts.”

The company will use the new funding to double its 30-person team as it builds out its marketing and product groups (in addition to more hiring on the engineering side).

Microsoft launches Azure Container Apps, a new serverless container service

At its Ignite conference, Microsoft today announced the preview launch of Azure Container Apps, a new fully managed serverless container service that complements the company’s existing container infrastructure services like the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Microsoft notes that Azure Container Apps was specifically built for microservices, with the ability to quickly scale based on HTTP traffic, events or long-running background jobs.

In many ways, it’s probably most like AWS App Runner, one of Amazon’s small fleet of serverless container services, with App Runner also specifically focused on microservices. Google meanwhile also offers a set of container-centric services, including Cloud Run, its serverless platform for running container-based applications.

Microsoft says that with Azure Container Apps, developers will be able to build their apps in the language and with the framework of their choosing and then deploy it with the help of this new service. The infrastructure itself sits on top of open-source projects like Microsoft’s own Dapr application runtime and its scaling technology is powered by Kubernetes Event-Driven Autoscaling (KEDA), a project that is supported by Microsoft, Red Hat and Codit, as well as Vexxhost and Snyk.

“I think about the Azure Container Apps experience as more like a PasS-like experience to AKS, which is your IaaS,” Roanne Sones, Microsoft’s corporate VP for Azure Edge and Platform, explained. “In a world where customers start with IaaS and, eventually, if they could just have gone straight to PaaS, they probably would have. Because why not? All I have to do is think about my app and or consume the app — and it’s done for me. That’s how I think about that laddering. If AKS is the underlying infrastructure service that you give to customers for running a CNCF-compliant Kubernetes service, then Azure Container Apps sits above that and it abstracts away more of the infrastructure so you don’t have to get into the guts of that level of design and lifecycle management.”

It’s maybe no surprise that all of the major cloud providers now offer serverless container services of various kinds, both for sophisticated ops teams that need to have full control of their deployments and for companies that want others to handle all of this for them. And despite a plethora of tools to make this easier, managing Kubernetes clusters remains a full-time job for infrastructure teams, after all. The promise of containers has always been the ability to easily scale services up and down as needed and to free developers from having to think about the infrastructure that their code will run on. For a lot of teams that simply want to get their services into production, serverless is the way to go.

Google Cloud launches a managed Spark service

At its Cloud Next event, Google today announced the launch of Spark on Google Cloud as a fully managed service. With this, the popular open-source data processing engine will become a premium offering on Google Cloud.

“With this innovation, Spark finally arrives in the cloud-native world,” said Gerrit Kazmaier, Google’s VP & GM for Database, Data Analytics & Looker. “It allows data engineers and data scientists to work with Spark without worrying about cluster end configurations. We also integrated it into all of our data services. So you can launch it directly from BigQuery, from Vertex AI, from Dataplex. It makes using Spark so easy that it allows our customers to use the frameworks and the toolkits that they’re familiar with — they love the data science experience, and they can now consume it in a cloud-native way.”

Google argues that this is the “world’s first autoscaling and serverless Spark service for the Google Cloud data platform.” But it’s worth noting that, given its popularity, there are plenty of other companies that will run and manage Spark for their customers. Spark is also at the center of Databricks’ platform, which is maybe no surprise, given that the well-funded startup was founded by the creators of Spark.

You may also wonder: doesn’t Google Cloud already offer a managed Spark service as part of Dataproc (that is, of course, if you’re one of the five people who is capable of remembering every service that Google, Amazon and Microsoft now offer in their clouds…)?

These are different services, targeting different customers, though, Kazmaier told me. If you already have Spark, Hadoop or maybe MapReduce, Presto and other systems up and running, then the idea here is that Dataproc will give you all of these, but as a managed service. But for Kazmaier, the focus of what he’s building out around Google Cloud’s data services is all about simplicity and especially about making life easier for companies that are just getting started in their data journey.

“You’re building a data team — and you hire one data engineer and one data scientist? Do what you really want to get started by saying: ‘I’ll now build a storage system. I’ll build up a metadata system from the ground up.’ Of course not, but this is literally what you are forced to do today,” he said. ” Now with Spark serverless, you just say ‘go.'”