Materialize is the only true SQL streaming database for building internal tools, interactive dashboards, and customer-facing experiences. It provides the simplicity of SQL queries but with millisecond-level latency for real-time data.
As Materialize was launching its cloud offering, it needed a billing system to handle flexible pricing structures, usage tracking, invoicing, reporting, and more—but quickly learned that building one would be painful and require significant resources.
With Orb, Materialize has flexibility with pricing, billing, and go-to-market strategies, and the Finance org has accurate and shareable reporting for accounting, weekly business reviews and board meetings. They also have a deeper understanding of COGS for each customer—vital for building and maintaining pricing structures and providing accurate recommendations for the business and its processes.
- Materialize had specific billing needs but didn’t want to build a billing system in-house
- Orb provides flexibility and trust while saving engineering resources
- Orb acts as the source of truth and helps Materialize run best-in-class financial processes
Searching for a source of truth
When Materialize began developing its cloud offering, the team needed a source of truth for usage, correct invoicing, flexibility for different contract structures and payment terms, and reporting for accounting and internal business needs, as well as automated plan creation, sales tax, and business operations workflows. The team realized what a large undertaking this would be to build internally. They also wanted infrastructure to handle deeper technical aspects of billing like idempotency guarantees to avoid double-charging and the ability to add metadata to plans.
When they discovered Orb they quickly learned that it would lie at the center of their business. Orb also met two additional needs they hadn’t considered in their initial search: flexibility to provide for their billing needs and, most of all, trust in the solution.
Focusing engineering resources on core product
The decision to use Orb saved the Materialize team a lot of engineering hours since they needed a system that was tracking-hardened and accounted for closed periods—not a natural engineering task to build.
On top of that, invoicing, sales calculations, and accounting integrations would have taken even more time to ship. In fact, Charles Horner, Materialize’s Head of Finance, estimates that scoping out the build and hiring and onboarding more engineers would have happened at the expense of delivering features to customers.
Greater flexibility and a better customer experience
Using Orb helps Materialize achieve its various go-to-market motions and stay flexible with regard to payment terms, invoice timing, and upfront payments. The ability to evolve, test, and launch new GTM motions without worrying about billing helps the sales, finance, and BizOps teams deliver better results for the business. And with robust data around usage, the team is better prepared to serve their customers.
Accurate and shareable reporting functionality
Orb’s reporting dashboard is one of the foundations of Materialize’s finance infrastructure—the accounting and revenue teams use Orb to power daily and weekly revenue meetings that impact near-term operations and reporting for quarterly and annual board reviews.
Using Orb’s API, the team was able to integrate usage and billing data into their analytics pipeline, making it even more accessible for leadership, who now look at it every day. This data drives weekly business reviews, informs and maintains forecast models, and determines budget allocation for spending, like on cloud provider costs.
A deeper understanding of COGS
Materialize always had a firm vision for pricing from the beginning, and they’ve used Orb to make it a reality. They now use Orb to feed usage data into a dashboard, which helps to allocate and understand their COGS.
With Orb, Charles and his team have a high level of granular visibility into usage and automation of finance reporting—something pretty uncommon for a finance organization. With such clarity, they can better understand data and deliver informed, accurate recommendations for the business.