by Steve O’Hear
Prisma, a Berlin and San Francisco startup that is betting big on GraphQL — the data query language originally developed by Facebook to make it easier for front-end code to talk to application servers — has raised $4.5 million in seed funding.
Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins led the round, with participation from a number of angel investors, many of whom have deep roots in the developer and/or open source space, including Nick Schrock, one of the creators of GraphQL itself.
TechCrunch first learned of Kleiner’s pending investment in Prisma (formerly Graphcool) back in March, when the deal hadn’t yet closed. In a brief call yesterday, Prisma co-founder and CEO Johannes Schickling confirmed the investment and explained that the startup sought to raise from West Coast VCs and investors, rather than European VCs, who “really understand Open Source,” noting that any serious developer offering has to take a bottom up approach in order to become adopted by the wider developer community.
To that end, Schickling tells me Prisma itself has pivoted away from its narrower Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) model to an Open Source one, with the core offering — dubbed “Prisma 1.0” — released as a standalone infrastructure component under an Apache 2 open source license.
The company is building what it describes as the GraphQL data layer for all databases, in recognition that modern backends typically combine and connect to multiple specialised databases e.g. Postgres, Elasticsearch, Redis, Neo4j etc. This requires complex “mapping logic” to the underlying databases, which is precisely the heaving-lifting that Prisma has set out to solve. Prisma wants you to be able to access all of your databases in a single GraphQL query.
Schickling says the new funding will be used to bolster the team, including opening an office in San Francisco in addition to its Berlin engineering base. On the product roadmap is support for more databases. Prisma currently plugs into MySQL and Postgres, but plans to add the likes of MongoDB, Elastic, and Cassandra.
Alongside the startup’s open source product, it offers Prisma Enterprise to enable critical security workflows (compliance, access control, audit logging etc.) and Prisma Cloud for teams to collaborate and easily manage databases.
Prisma’s other seed investors include Robin Vasan (board member of HashiCorp, Couchbase, InfluxData), John Komkov (Fathom Capital), Augusto Marietti (CEO Kong), Guillermo Rauch (CEO Zeit), Spencer Kimball (CEO CockroachDB), and Nicholas Dessaigne (CEO Algolia).