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Enterprise Technology: Revenge of the Nerdiest Nerds

Enterprise-focused startups will form the next wave of tech IPOs
Enterprise Technology: Revenge of the Nerdiest Nerds
Photograph by Aimee Brodeur for Bloomberg Businessweek

When Eric Frenkiel started an engineering job at Facebook in 2010, he encountered one of the world’s biggest databases: a stash of hundreds of millions of users’ likes, messages, and photos. After just a year, Frenkiel realized that he could use his experience to build a better data storage system for companies less tech savvy than his employer. He and Nikita Shamgunov, another Facebook engineer, left the social network in February 2011 to create—bravado alert—“the world’s fastest database,” according to Frenkiel, 26. “People thought we were crazy because we left before Facebook went public,” he says. “There we were, just two guys and a dog.”

The engineers set up shop in a San Francisco loft where they lived and worked. “Nikita, God bless his soul, would sleep next to our servers,” Frenkiel says. “He literally slept next to his code.” They named the company MemSQL, in reference to a popular database language, and hired additional engineers to complete a mad dash to debut their first product. In June, the company started selling software that runs about 30 times faster than traditional databases made by Oracle, IBM, and others, according to Frenkiel.