Confluent IPO: Data in Motion is Changing the World
By Matt Miller
Published June 24, 2021
Jay Kreps, Neha Narkhede, Jun Rao and the team at Confluent are responsible for one of the most important trends in technology today: harnessing the power of data in motion.
Historically, most data has been processed in batches — first collected, then saved and transformed, and finally queried. While working to find a way to seamlessly integrate many sources and uses of data, Jay, Neha and Jun saw an opportunity to also process that data while in motion. This innovation would save valuable time and empower better decisions to be made in real time. They built this technology while at LinkedIn, and it was released to the world as the open-source platform Apache Kafka.
Soon, other large technology companies — including Netflix, Uber and Spotify — began to pick up Kafka as an enabler of new real-time services. They used the platform as a strategic advantage, to provide user experiences that were enhanced by the ability to collect and process critical data in real time. Interest from the enterprise quickly followed, as e-commerce companies saw an opportunity to competitively adjust pricing in real time, banks discovered how to catch fraud in the moment, and industrial companies learned to collect and analyze signals in their facilities. Jay, Neha and Jun recognized the opportunity, and left LinkedIn to start a full-fledged data-streaming platform built on Kafka: Confluent.
We were fortunate to partner with Confluent in March 2017, when we led their Series C. At the time, the company had released a commercial product and was just starting to see early signs of breakout success with customers. The founders were so impressive, it was hard to not leave every meeting tingling with excitement. They not only had a vision for how data in motion would one day be at the core of nearly every business, but the ambition to build a company that could enable that evolution — and in the process, change the world.
Since the start of our partnership, we have been consistently impressed by Confluent’s ability to rise to every occasion. They’ve landed some of the largest customers in enterprise. They’ve expanded to serve more use cases, including multi-cloud data streaming, querying and stream processing, and the enablement of microservices. They’ve made difficult decisions, including the launch of a cloud service that is now very successful. They’ve opened the gates for small teams to benefit from self-service. And they have recruited incredible talent across the company to execute on their shared vision. In late 2018, we were thrilled to deepen our partnership and lead their Series D alongside Index Ventures.
Less than three years later, it is no surprise to see how far they have come. Confluent is now the central nervous system for data for thousands of customers — connecting, processing and providing data in real time and enabling endless innovations across industries. As we mark today’s milestone, we at Sequoia congratulate Jay, Neha, Jun and the entire Confluent team on their incredible accomplishment — and we look forward to being by their side as they continue harnessing the power of data in motion.