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NoVa database startup pgEdge just emerged from stealth with a $9M raise

Founders Phillip Merrick and Denis Lussier — familiar faces on the local entrepreneurial scene — hope the startup will help companies make copies of the databases they use every day.

Phillip Merrick (left) and Denis Lussier. (Courtesy photo)

With the help of a huge initial raise, an Alexandria database software company just emerged from stealth.

pgEdge, founded by Phillip Merrick and Denis Lussier, is a startup building a distributed database that can be optimized for use at the network edge. With a $9 million funding round led by Sands Capital Ventures and GroTech Ventures, the company emerged from stealth Tuesday.

While companies have had and used databases for years, Merrick said that it’s difficult to distribute the data, which is why the cloud is used so heavily.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that while every other component of software applications can now be distributed around the cloud and around the network, and can even be put at what we call the ‘network edge,’ the database stubbornly has stayed in one place: centralized,” Merrick told Technical.ly.

To solve this, pgEdge is making it possible to make copies of open source database Postgres. From there, companies can place those copies around the network. The reason that Merrick thinks this is necessary — and cool — is because it will help reduce wait times for web pages to load across the globe, specifically in the ecommerce space. When databases are stored only in one space, users shopping from across the country or the globe are stuck waiting for pages to load, which can result in lost sales. But Merrick sees other relevance beyond e-commerce platforms, too.

“For ecommerce, it’s a big deal, but it’s also a big deal for SaaS companies who are operating across continents or just operating across the US,” Merrick said. “It’s a big deal for gaming companies. It’s a very big deal for financial services companies.”

The company was officially founded in August 2022, though Lussier had been working on a similar concept with a smaller company that effectively merged into pgEdge, Merrick said. With pgEdge, Merrick said his goal is to make it possible to build fully distributed applications with database copies running around the network. That will make it easy for developers and database architects, he said, who are driven to build on a global scale. For customers, he added, it will reduce data latency; this means faster load times and higher resiliency since multiple copies allow companies to shift traffic onto another database if a few stopped working.

The founders might be familiar faces to those in the know on the startup scene. Lussier is the founder of OpenSCG, a startup acquired by Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2018. Following the acquisition, he joined AWS as a Postgres product manager for Aurora and RDS. Merrick, meanwhile, is an entrepreneur with several startup credentials. He’s the coinventor of VisualCV, a leader at webMethods, cofounder of Enterprise DB, CEO of Fugue and CEO of Sparkpost (which was acquired by MessageBird in 2021).

With the funds, pgEdge plans to expand its 14-person team, growing in engineering as well as sales and marketing. But longer term, Merrick sees huge potential for growth in this world of non-centralized databases.

“We think distributed databases is just an enormous opportunity, so we are absolutely planning on building a big business here,” Merrick said.

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