CNCF has purchased the source code to the RethinkDB database, relicensed the code under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (ASLv2) and contributed it to The Linux Foundation.

RethinkDBTM is an open source, NoSQL, distributed document-oriented database that is in production use today by hundreds of technology startups, consulting firms and Fortune 500 companies, including NASA, GM, Jive, Platzi, the U.S. Department of Defense, Distractify and Matters Media. Some of Silicon Valley’s top firms invested $12.2 million over more than eight years in the RethinkDB company to build a state-of-the-art database system, but were unsuccessful in creating a sustainable business, and it shut down in October 2016.

The project was licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License, Version 3 (AGPLv3), a strong copyleft license, which limited the willingness of some companies to use and contribute to the software. CNCF paid $25,000 to purchase the RethinkDB copyright and assets and has re-licensed the software under the ASLv2, one of the most popular permissive software licenses, which enables anyone to use the software for any purpose without complicated requirements. (See related blog post “Why CNCF Recommends ASLv2“.)

“CNCF saw the opportunity to salvage an enormous investment with a small incremental contribution,” said CNCF Executive Director Dan Kohn. “RethinkDB created millions of dollars worth of value and is used by a wide range of projects, companies and startups. Now that the software is available under the Apache license, the RethinkDB community has the opportunity to define the future path for themselves.”

Praised for its ease-of-use, rich data model and ability to support extremely flexible querying capabilities, RethinkDB’s real-time push architecture is well-suited for collaborative web and mobile apps, streaming analytics apps, multiplayer games, realtime marketplaces and connected devices and services.

“RethinkDB was built by a team of database experts with the help of hundreds of contributors from around the world. With its current feature set, we believe RethinkDB continues to offer distinct advantages over other data stores in its class,” said RethinkDB community member Chris Abrams. “CNCF’s relicensing and our new home within the Linux Foundation allows the RethinkDB community to unite together to push the project forward.”

RethinkDB supports cloud-native clustering out of the box. Additional benefits include its elegant functional query language, change feeds for dynamic queries and user interface simplicity. (See related blog post “The Liberation of RethinkDB“)

“I love RethinkDB and use it every day in production,” said Bryan Cantrill, Joyent CTO and a member of the CNCF Technical Oversight Committee. “I’m thrilled that the CNCF is liberating the RethinkDB community with an open source license that is amenable to broad adoption. I hope RethinkDB will consider applying to become a CNCF Inception project in the future, and I look forward to advocating for them in my capacity as a member of the TOC.”

The RethinkDB software is available to download at Development occurs at and work has been underway on the 2.4 release, which will be available shortly. Follow the RethinkDB community discussion at Continued community support is available at:


Contact for any questions and media inquiries: Sarah Conway, 978-578-5300,

RethinkDB is a trademark of The Linux Foundation.