Franz Kafka

Confluent, the company whose founders created Apache Kafka, confidentially filed for IPO late yesterday. In effect, this filing was a formal intent to IPO, with key details such as the number of shares and proposed price range still in flux.

Valued at over $4 billion, Confluent, along with companies like Databricks, could be considered super-unicorns, and given the inflating valuations, the question wasn’t whether, but when Confluent would finally file for public offering. We’re still asking the same thing for Databricks, whose funding has topped $1 billion and whose valuation is off the charts.

Confluent achieved unicorn status a couple years ago, and like fellow former unicorn (now public MongoDB), adopted its own quasi open source licensing to prevent cloud providers from monetizing the IP, not from Kafka (which remains an Apache project), but all the enterprise goodies and connectors that the company has built around it.

A couple years back, we asked where is Confluent going, with the answer being that it is building a cloud service where you can run queries and analytics straight from the firehose. A year ago, we reported the company drawing its last round (Series E) $250 million of funding, which coincided with the launch of the ironically-named Project Metamorphosis, an initiative to expand its Kafka platform into a hybrid cloud-native event streaming platform. One of the elements of the project was lifting the limits on data storage, as reported by Big on Data bro Andrew Brust last summer.

Last year, it reached out beyond its core audience of Java developers to engage the SQL professional base by expanding KSQL, its capability to run SQL queries against streaming data with the event streaming database ksqlDB. And a year before that, it incorporated features putting C++, Python, Go, and .NET with on equal footing with Java.

More recently, Confluent has rounded out its cloud service by making its service available on the marketplaces of Azure and Google Cloud, in addition to AWS where it debuted back in 2015. It has been adding connectors, most recently capping it off with “premium” connectors to Oracle, which taps into the database’s change-data-capture logs. Confluent is promoting use cases such as using Kafka for backing up logs enabling database re-do’s; generating database snapshots; protecting access to Oracle table change logs; and sharing Oracle data on specific records changed by specific primary keys. Note that Oracle has just come out swinging with its own GoldenGate Cloud service designed to support these exact same use cases.

As the SEC filing is confidential, nothing has been set in stone regarding when, and for how much, the initial stock offering will be made.

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