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Lightbend Raises $25M from Dell Tech Capital and Insiders

Apr 21, 2020 · 4  min

This post originally appeared on Tyler Jewell’s Linkedin profile.

Lightbend announces that Dell Technologies Capital led their $25M investment round.

Lightbend today announced that Dell Technologies Capital led their $25M investment round!

Joining us in the round are existing investors Shasta Ventures, Bain Capital, IBM, Blue Cloud Ventures, Greylock Partners, Juniper Networks, Polytech Ventures, and Intel Capital. I have also joined Lightbend’s board of directors.

Founded in 2010 by Jonas Bonér (creator of Akka) and Martin Odersky (creator of the Scala Programming Language), Lightbend has become the leading vendor for Reactive Architecture and has 150 vanguard customers whose applications require the highest forms of resilience, speed, and scalability including LinkedIn, Verizon, Tesla, CapitalOne, Goldman Sachs, Starbucks, ING, Walmart, and HPE among many others (their public customer case study list is impressive). Lightbend delivers their solution through the Lightbend Platform, a set of runtimes and management services to allow developers to create cloud native applications which are high TPS, real-time, resilient, stateful, and consistent for offline/online scenarios.

When Lightbend CEO Mark Brewer approached Dell Technologies Capital last Summer, the company didn’t need financial support. Effectively cash flow positive with a dollar-based net retention rate higher than MuleSoft, Lightbend was building bridges throughout the Kubernetes ecosystem to the newly established Reactive Foundation, for which Lightbend is a founding member. After Mark exposed us to the unmet demand for cloud native application architecture, Lightbend’s substantial community growth (2M devs +70% yoy), and vision for bringing Reactive Architecture to every developer, we saw an opening to help Lightbend go global, faster.

We wanted to invest, and so we did.

Cloud Native Application Development Is On The Rise

According to Gartner, IDC, and Goldman Sachs, containers are shaping into a $7 billion opportunity by 2021. 75% will be for deploying new applications enabled by containers, especially cloud native apps.

App modernization from cloud native applications will be the largest Kubernetes workload.

A cloud native application takes advantage of the underlying platform’s ability to optimize resource consumption, scale dynamically, and recover quickly if any portion of the system goes down.

IDC further indicates that adopting a microservices paradigm is essential to building cloud native applications, as the componentized architecture enables maximum leverage of an underlying platform’s optimization, scale, and resilience functions. IDC further concluded that by 2021, 45% of applications will be built using a microservices architecture.

Reactive Architecture has a demonstrated ability to address all cloud native application requirements — offering developers insurance against changing application requirements for applications originally designed with Reactive Architecture.

For a great explanation of what constitutes a cloud native application and how Reactive Architecture is well suited for implementing those applications, see a companion post on

Lightbend Is the Leader in Reactive Architecture

Our excitement for making an investment in Lightbend stems from their leadership:

  1. Lightbend defined Reactive Architecture. They authored — along with key members of the community — the Reactive Manifesto. It has become a north star for guiding principles and has over 27,000 signatories. Lightbend is also a founding member of the Reactive Foundation, an open source organization dedicated to promoting the usage of reactive systems. Lightbend is also an active contributor to other open source related initiatives including a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) TOC memberApp Delivery SIG member, and contributor to StrimziIstioDAPR, and CloudEvents.
  2. Lightbend has the largest Reactive Architecture community. Lightbend has sponsored many successful open source projects including Akka (Actor-based run-time for distributed systems), Alpakka (stream-based reactive data integration), Cloudflow (reactive pipelines), Cloudstate (reactive serverless for polyglot languages), Lagom (reactive microservices), Play (reactive web apps) and Scala (a reactive programming language). Collectively, there are 2.2 million developers interacting on Lightbend communities, a growth of 70% from the previous year. Additionally, numerous startups are building businesses and advanced distributed systems leveraging Lightbend open source projects including AirBnB, Credit Karma, eero, Shopify, Spotify, StashAway, Mosaic, among 100s of others.
  3. Lightbend is defining the future of Reactive Architecture. This week Lightbend is hosting a Stateful Serverless Symposium, discussing and learning from 50 of the industry’s vendor architects on projects and technologies they have been pursuing to create the next generation of standards for application scaling and distribution. Attendees are collaborating on Knative, Cloudstate, Project Riff, Microsoft Azure Durable Function, Dapr, among others. Teams representing more than two dozen distributed systems vendors will be broken into working groups to collaborate on special interests and standards.
  4. The largest cloud native apps are built with Reactive Architecture and the Lightbend Platform. LinkedIn built an online status for over 1/2 billion people in real time. Verizon ported off of Oracle to Lightbend and processes more than 12,000 orders/minute with a fraction of the response time. Twitter broke the 140,000 tweets/second record.
  5. Lightbend has the largest pool of Reactive Architecture talent. Lightbend’s 140 employees is the largest single group dedicated to designing, supporting, implementing Reactive Systems. They have a structured approach that combines partners, consulting, training, and support to ensure that projects are successful through design, implementation, deployment and day 2 operations. Lightbend also has over 100 partners from Reactive Architecture specialty firms to the world’s largest System Integrators establishing Reactive practices including WiproAccenture and EY.

Lightbend’s Approach to Reactive Architecture For Every Developer

Originally, Lightbend was developing technologies around Java and Scala. Over the past couple of years, Lightbend has been working to bring Reactive Architecture to developers on any platform that have preferences for any programming language, whether you are a seasoned architecture or a new engineer fresh out of school.

Cloudstate is a specification and initiative that makes Reactive Architecture polyglot — working with any programming language including Go, Java, JavaScript, Rust, and .NET languages. It’s possible for individuals and vendors to add additional language support and to deploy Cloudstate into different environments. Cloudstate melds important technologies across the spectrum including KnativegRPC, Akka, GraalVM, and Kubernetes.

Combined, these solutions offer a vision for Serverless 2.0 — a Reactive Architecture combined with a simple functional programming model, an on-demand operational scaling system, and stateful behaviors. Serverless 2.0 will make stateful functions programming approachable to any developer allowing users to build general-purpose applications.

Lightbend is Hiring!

I’m looking forward to helping the company shape its future and to be a contributing board member.

We are aggressively hiring. If being part of a global phenomenon for how applications will be written for Kubernetes excites you, please write to me at [email protected] I’ll introduce you to the right people within Lightbend.

We are hiring:

  1. Technology: Product managers, DevOps engineers, back-end software engineers, security engineers, architects, and consultants.
  2. Business: Product marketing managers, account executives, and solution architects.

PS: What is a Reactive App?

Cloud environments excel at scaling stateless services but challenges occur with stateful applications because database calls to fetch state are slow.

Additionally, a database is a single point of failure. If the database is not available, all services depending on it are blocked. If your application has multiple services (it does) then synchronous service-to-service calls can lead to cascading failures if any single service depends upon a database — even if that database is replicated and distributed!

Reactive applications avoid these stateful problems:

  1. Speed. Each service manages its own state in memory. Services communicate directly with each other asynchronously. The database is accessed asynchronously for event sourcing / event logging.
  2. Resilience. Services automatically rebalance state and workloads and self-heal in cases of failure.
  3. Scale. Services automatically scale up to handle peak workloads and scale down when not needed.

Through thoughtful design and the right selection of eventing and microservices technology, any application can be a reactive application.