A startup seeking to scale blockchain for enterprise use has raised €3m ($3.37m) in venture capital to do for databases what bitcoin's blockchain did for ledgers.
Led by Earlybird Ventures and featuring participation from Anthemis Group, RWE Ventures, innogy SE and Digital Currency Group, BigchainDB's Series A round is intended to help expand the company's staff and bolster its security.
Whereas traditional databases are centrally controlled, BigchainDB is working to build a database that has "blockchain characteristics" and that is owned by its users.
BigchainDB's co-founder and CEO Bruce Pon told CoinDesk:
"Blockchain is a way to give access to assets equally. You're still going to need intermediaries, but the access is equalized. They will never own your data like Google or Apple or Amazon."
The company currently employs 15 people at its Berlin headquarters, and will hire three new developers and a business development manager with the additional capital.
To date, most of the firm's existing revenue comes from one- to two-day consulting sessions and proof-of-concept builds with third-party companies, but ultimately, it hopes to generate revenue selling software licenses.
With the Series A raise, BigchainDB also cements a pivot that began shortly after it originally raised $2m in funding for an intellectual property product called Ascribe in early 2015. Since then, the company has rebranded, and though it still offers its Ascribe product for legacy users, no work is being done on the platform.
Still, Pon said Ascribe was an important stepping stone for the company, as it was its issues scaling the platform on the bitcoin blockchain that led the firm to search for a more scalable distributed ledger.
Pon describes the work his company has done since with its clients as "starting with existing database infrastructure and blockchainifying it."
In the case of his first client, provenance startup Everledger, that could mean setting up nodes with art galleries and helping them share art-ownership histories, or detecting fraud in the global diamond trade.
Though such work is still in its early phases, existing clients include investor RWE (which is currently working to build a "shared automous factory"); Capgemini (which is building a loyalty product); and Eris Industries (which is building an enterprise blockchain application stack).
To meet enterprise demands, Pon and his co-founders Trent and Masha McConaghy set about mixing blockchain features such as decentralized control, immutability and digital asset creation with more traditional database-features including a full-featured NoSQL query language and faster transaction rates.
But users don't have to be clients to download the software. Currently, anyone can spin-out a federation of nodes and set up their own network.
For those looking to join an existing open network, BigchainDB earlier this year launched the IPDB Foundation, a non-profit federation of about 15 nodes managed by non-profits like Archive.org, Open Media Foundation and a few for-profits such as Protocol Labs and ConsenSys.
According to CTO Trent McConaghy, the result of this work is a network that regularly runs at more than 100,000 transactions per second, and that has surpassed 1 million transactions.
"We serve terabytes and even petabytes because that's what distributed big data databases do."
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in BigchainDB.
Images via BigchainDB; Card catalog via Shutterstock