Main image of article MongoDB Buys Realm, Promises ‘Bright’ Future For All

It's an acquisition out of left field: MongoDB is buying Realm for $39 million in cash. The deal is expected to close in MongoDB’s second quarter, which runs through July.

Realm exists primarily to make creating and managing mobile databases easier for developers, and does a sensational job of it. The base offering, Realm Database, allows subclassing of Realm objects within your app’s code to define a schema with persistent lightweight transactions. It is seen by many as the simplest, and most effective, way to create and manage databases with user-generated inputs. Realm Platform is a cloud-based sync service, and is equally simple to use.

MongoDB Mobile is structured much like the aforementioned Realm Platform. It calls to MongoDB Atlas (a cloud-based database developers can use for anything) via the Stitch SDK. This allows the data to reside in the cloud, while the mobile app simply calls it and writes to it as needed. MongoDB Mobile also works for connected devices (the dreaded Internet of Things).

Being speculative, it’s likely safe to say these two products will be merged. Both utilize Java and Swift, with Realm adding JavaScript and Xamarin support for Platform, and a variety of languages in other products (much like its new parent company). Further speculation suggests Realm may have held some IP that MongoDB wanted, which sparked acquisition talks.

The acquisition itself is curious. MongoDB is purchasing Realm for $39 million cash. Realm has raised about $40.2 million in venture capital from 12 investors, with one lead investor. MongoDB has a reported $147.83 million in cash on hand (it's publicly traded as of 2018, so there's some insight to its financial health). It’s unclear what the structure of the deal is (or how much cash Realm may have on hand), but it's possible whatever kickers or incentives Realm employees were set to receive may not occur under this deal if there were stretch goals for going public or reaching certain metrics (which is often the case).

Alternatively, Realm simply had $1.2 million in cash on hand and this deal will break even for the VC firms who backed Realm. Still, it's curious this deal is either a loss for the venture capitalists involved, or a break-even proposition.

Whatever the case, MongoDB seems to think Realm can be scaled right up. It’s probably not wrong; Realm Platform seems like a product well-suited for MongoDB right now, and the underlying infrastructure will likely alleviate some complexity within MongoDB Mobile if it's weaved in as-is, and perhaps even MongoDB proper should the company decide it wants to go that route.

For those who aren’t familiar with Realm, but use MongoDB, we’d suggest familiarizing yourself with how Realm works; it may become how MongoDB works, moving forward.