PubNub rises $65M to build and run data streams for messaging, presence, and other real-time aspects of ‘virtual spaces’

Data streams with continuous, real-time updates of information are a critical building block of how today’s apps and sites work, and now a startup that has built a platform to power those data streams is announcing a growth round of funding on the back of strong growth in its business into a wider set of use cases. 

PubNub, a San Francisco-based startup that provides APIs to power messaging and data updates for apps and other digital businesses, has raised $65 million in a Series E round. The funds will be used to expand the platform’s functionality as well as geographically: the first stop will be a new Asia Pacific office in Singapore.

According to PubNub, it is messaging, presence and other databased APIs now utilized by 600 million devices in more than 70 countries, with 900,000 developer projects generating 21 petabytes of data every month. Adobe, Atlassian, DocuSign, and RingCentral are among its “thousands” of clients.

More broadly, the vertical where it sees strong traction includes gaming, virtual events, enterprise collaboration, chat, rideshare/delivery services, telehealth applications. Combined fitness and smart home products – a field that relies on the concept of “virtual space” where data streams are regularly updated – be it delivery progress, or how much action you’ve taken, how much energy you’ve used, or who attends an online meeting Doing or chatting – a key part of the user experience.

In an interview, PubNub’s CEO and co-founder Todd Greene remarked, “We’re witnessing an explosion in what clients are doing with PubNub.” “When we first began PubNub, we had a picture of what software would be required to run virtual environments. Initially, it was the message, but as time went on, we learned from clients that communication was insufficient.”

Raine Group is leading the fundraising round, with Sapphire Ventures, Scale Ventures, HPE, and Bosch also participating. PubNub is not saying how much its worth, but it received more than $130 million and was valued at roughly $220 million in its previous equity round in 2019, according to PitchBook.

Although it’s difficult to quantify PubNub’s growth because it hasn’t disclosed how much data it has worked with on a monthly basis, only the number of messages — 1.3 trillion messages in 2019 — a figure it isn’t updating this time around, I’ve confirmed with Greene that the San Francisco-based startup’s valuation is now “much higher” than that. Customer reservations increased by 200 percent year over year in 2021, according to the report.

When you use PubNub’s APIs, you will never see a “powered by PubNub” sign appear on your screen, but it is also operating behind the scenes in what has become a core and vital component of how all digital services run. More and more areas of our daily lives are carried out or are reliant on digital experiences in some form, and part of the reason for this is because digital experiences have gone a long way. 

We use (and rely) on apps, websites, and connected gadgets more than ever before because they have more functionality, more data, and a better user experience built into them. Unsurprisingly, those that provide the infrastructure that allows all of this to happen are witnessing increased company development and investment interest.

Added to that, the “metaverse” has gained a lot of traction as a concept in recent years, which may offer a boost to firms like PubNub that talk about powering virtual spaces, even if the wider picture is a little less buzzy in terms of how these services have grown and work.

PubNub is not the only one whose star is rising in this scenario. Other API-based messaging and communications services providers include Twilio, SendBird, MessageBird, and Sinch, which are utilized by third-party apps, sites, and other digital enterprises. Others providing API-based routes to create any form of data updates, messaging, or otherwise, that turn the wheels of any real-time services compete more directly with PubNub. Ably from London, Cometchat from Techstars, and Google’s Firebase are among them.