Many years ago, when Couchbase co-founder Steve Yen and I and some of my colleagues were at Accel’s offices developing the concept for what became Couchbase, one word stood out in the discussion: persistence. In its technical database sense, persistence referred to the property of storing and serving data in a stable, reliable fashion—unlike the cobbled together band-aids groaning to serve the explosive behemoths of the day, like Facebook and LinkedIn. We had no idea how that word would become so appropriate to describe Couchbase’s business, culture, and its team in so many other contexts.
The idea for Couchbase arose from listening to our good friend Jeff Rothschild at Facebook, whom Accel had introduced to the company shortly after we funded it in 2005. Facebook’s unprecedented growth and complex database structure presented the technical challenge of a lifetime, and Jeff’s team was forced to design most of their own solutions from scratch as the site’s demands quickly overwhelmed even the most advanced vendors of the day.
A major problem was the database—legacy databases were designed decades before primarily for transactions like hotel bookings and sales orders—not the onslaught of interactions in the form of hundreds of likes, comments, photos and locations that even a single user could generate daily, multiplied millions (and soon billions) of times over. Jeff’s team initially triaged the problem by placing a massive memory cache in front of the database, but this early solution proved cumbersome and unstable. Facebook had the talent and capital to eventually build a solution, but we knew few others could.
So Steve Yen and his early team at Couchbase set out to solve this problem—to provide a modern, reliable, new database architecture that could handle the loads and speeds of the most demanding customers, but also operate with little to no human intervention. Couchbase would technically persist in the face of the onslaught. And so they did. Without compromise.
Persistence and resilience in the business sense were required as well. It was quite scary for us as backers to commit to a company targeting the biggest, most demanding applications and customers right out of the gate. Normally, startup software companies first cut their teeth on less critical problems with small customers. But Couchbase’s first customers were the largest app stores, social games, travel, and e-commerce sites in the world. The quality of the product and, importantly, the tireless night and weekend work of the team (particularly engineering, support, and QA), kept those business-critical apps running at peak performance. As the world changed, the digital demands upon nearly every major global company became as acute as those upon Facebook when Couchbase was founded. Couchbase grew with its customers, and persistence was hardened into the business fabric. So much so that today, Couchbase counts over 30% of the Fortune 100 as customers.
Culturally, Matt Cain as CEO has now assembled and grown a management team that embodies persistence as a value, and he extended that meaning into a powerful ethos that prioritizes family, trust, and humanity as core principles. This is no ordinary lip-service, Matt’s Glassdoor employee approval rating is 99%...and these surveys are anonymous. Please compare that to your favorite CEO. Matt has always known that building a great database company cannot happen overnight, and his leadership has earned incredible commitment from employees and customers for the long haul.
Looking ahead, the future appears bright for Couchbase. Multiple industry trends play to the company’s strengths. Today’s businesses demand modern and highly interactive applications to power the personalized experiences of their customers’ demand. Customers want a platform that is easy to use, reliable, scalable, flexible, and can run from any cloud to the edge, and yet still saves them money. The company was built for this moment.
We are incredibly proud of Matt and his team, and we deeply enjoy and appreciate the relationships with all of those who have made so many critical contributions past and present, to get the company to this milestone and hopefully decades beyond. Special thanks to all of them, including Greg, Ravi, Margaret, Chris, Scott, Denis, John, and Matt, and past enormous contributors including but not limited to Bob, James, Yaseen, Sujan, Shekhar, Steven, and Peter. You all know who you are, and you are amazing. And also we’d like to acknowledge our co-investors who made this possible, including but not limited to Adams Street Partners, Glynn Capital, GPI Capital, Ignition, Mayfield, Northbridge Venture Partners, Sorenson Capital, and West Summit Capital.
Congratulations to Team Couchbase!