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PlanetScale raises $30M Series B for its database service

By Frederic Lardinois

PlanetScale, the company behind the open-source Vitess database clustering system for MySQL that was first developed at YouTube, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series B funding round led by Insight Partners, with participation from a16z and SignalFire. With this, the company has now raised a total of $55 million, according to Crunchbase.

Today’s announcement comes only a few weeks after PlanetScale launched its new hosted database platform, also dubbed PlanetScale. The company had previously offered a hosted version of Vitess, but with this new service, it is going a step further and offering what it calls a “developer-first database” that abstracts away all of the infrastructures to ensure that developers won’t have to think about cloud zones, cluster sizes and other details.

Indeed, PlanetScale CEO and co-founder Jiten Vaidya was quite open about the limitations of this earlier product. “What we had built last year was pretty much hosted Vitess, which was no different than how a lot of cloud providers today give you databases,” he said. “So none of this ease of use, none of this elegance, none of these state-of-the-art experiences that the developers want and expect today, we had built into our product.”

But a few months ago, the company brought on former GitHub VP of Engineering Sam Lambert as its Chief Product Officer. Vaidya noted that Lambert brought a lot of developer empathy to PlanetScale and helped it launch this new product.

“People come to you because they’re not database experts, but they have data, they have problems,” Lambert said. “And too many companies, especially in the database world, do not think about the daily lives of their users like we do. They don’t think about the complete journey of what the user is actually trying to do, which is to provide value to their customers. They’re just very impressed with themselves for storing and retrieving data. And it’s like, yep, we’ve been doing that. We’ve been doing that since the 60s. Can we do something else now?”

The company’s users today include the likes of Slack, Figma, GitHub and Square, so it’s clearly delivering value to a lot of users. As Lambert noted, PlanetScale aims to offer them a product that is simple and easy to use. “Just because it is simple and easy to use, and beautiful, honestly — like just beautiful, well-designed tooling — it doesn’t mean it’s inferior. It doesn’t mean it’s missing anything. It means the others are missing the poetry and the additional elements of beauty that you can add to infrastructure products,” he said.

PlanetScale plans to use the new funding to scale its team globally and accelerate the adoption of its platform. Insight Partners Managing Director Nikhil Sachdev will join the company’s board, with the firm’s Managing Director Praveen Akkiraju also joining as a board observer.

“PlanetScale is setting a new bar for simplicity, performance and scalability for cloud-based databases in the serverless era,” said Sachdev. “The developer experience for databases has been painful for too long. PlanetScale is breaking that chain, solving longstanding problems related to scalability and reliability in an extremely elegant, tasteful, and useful way.”

Vercel raises $102M Series C for its front-end development platform

By Frederic Lardinois

Vercel, the company behind the popular open-source Next.js React framework, today announced that it has raised a $102 million Series C funding round led by Bedrock Capital. Existing investors Accel, CRV,
Geodesic Capital, Greenoaks Capital and GV also participated in this round, together with new investors 8VC, Flex Capital, GGV, Latacora, Salesforce Ventures and Tiger Global. In total, the company has now raised $163 million and its current valuation is $1.1 billion.

As Vercel notes, the company saw strong growth in recent months, with traffic to all sites and apps on its network doubling since October 2020. About half of the world’s largest 10,000 websites now use Next.js . Given the open-source nature of the Next.js framework, not all of these users are obviously Vercel customers, but its current paying customers include the likes of Carhartt, Github, IBM, McDonald’s and Uber.

Image Credits: Vercel

“For us, it all starts with a front-end developer,” Vercel CEO Guillermo Rauch told me. “Our goal is to create and empower those developers — and their teams — to create delightful, immersive web experiences for their customers.”

With Vercel, Rauch and his team took the Next.js framework and then built a serverless platform that specifically caters to this framework and allows developers to focus on building their front ends without having to worry about scaling and performance.

Older solutions, Rauch argues, were built in isolation from the cloud platforms and serverless technologies, leaving it up to the developers to deploy and scale their solutions. And while some potential users may also be content with using a headless content management system, Rauch argues that increasingly, developers need to be able to build solutions that can go deeper than the off-the-shelf solutions that many businesses use today.

Rauch also noted that developers really like Vercel’s ability to generate a preview URL for a site’s front end every time a developer edits the code. “So instead of just spending all your time in code review, we’re shifting the equation to spending your time reviewing or experiencing your front end. That makes the experience a lot more collaborative,” he said. “So now, designers, marketers, IT, CEOs […] can now come together in this collaboration of building a front end and say, ‘that shade of blue is not the right shade of blue.'”

“Vercel is leading a market transition through which we are seeing the majority of value-add in web and cloud application development being delivered at the front end, closest to the user, where true experiences are made and enjoyed,” said Geoff Lewis, founder and managing partner at Bedrock. “We are extremely enthusiastic to work closely with Guillermo and the peerless team he has assembled to drive this revolution forward and are very pleased to have been able to co-lead this round.”

Twitch, Pinterest, Reddit and more go down in Fastly CDN outage (Update: Outage resolved after 1 hour)

By Manish Singh

Countless popular websites including Reddit, Spotify, Twitch, Stack Overflow, GitHub, gov.uk, Hulu, HBO Max, Quora, PayPal, Vimeo, Shopify, Stripe, and news outlets CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC and Financial Times are currently facing an outage. A glitch at Fastly, a popular CDN provider, is thought to be the reason, according to a product manager at Financial Times. Fastly has confirmed it’s facing an outage on its status website.

“We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services,” the firm said.

Fastly, the CDN provider, is having a massive outage, resulting in Twitch, Pinterest, Reddit, The Guardian, and the FT returning 503 errors.https://t.co/parKGKwrSU

— Matt 'TK' Taylor (@MattieTK) June 8, 2021

Update at 3:50 AM PT: Some websites are slowly coming back up. “The issue has been identified and a fix is being implemented,” Fastly says on its status page.

Update at 4:02 AM PT: The issue seems to be resolved. The company hasn’t communicated about the source of the outage yet. Overall, it lasted around an hour.

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are a key part of the internet infrastructure. These companies run global networks of servers to improve performance and availability of web services. CDNs act as proxy servers and cache some data as close to the end user as possible. For instance, media content is often cached at a CDN server near you so that it doesn’t have to be fetched on the original server every time a user loads a web page.

Even though the web is a digital platform, it’s very physical by nature. When you load a page on a server on the other side of the world, it’s going to take hundreds of milliseconds to get the page. Over time, this latency adds up and it feels like a sluggish experience. When a page is already cached, a CDN can usually start sending the content of the page in less than 25 milliseconds.

Over time, CDNs have added more features, such as load balancing, DDoS protection, web application firewalls and other security features. Popular CDNs include Fastly, Cloudflare, CloudFront on Amazon Web Services and Akamai.

Fastly in particular is quite popular with media websites. The company went public in 2019. Fastly shares (NYSE:FSLY) are currently trading at $48.06, down 5.21% compared to yesterday’s closing price.

Today’s issue isn’t limited to a data center in particular. Fastly calls it a “global CDN disruption” and it sounds like it is affecting the company’s network globally.

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