Hortonworks: Yeah, we'll stay in London... as long as everyone else does

Hadoop-flinger's new president talks Brexit and getting rid of the sales chaff


DWS17 Hortonworks' new president, Raj Verma, has stated that his company will retain London as its international headquarters unless its financial sector and telecommunications customers fled the city following Brexit.

Speaking yesterday at the DataWorks Summit in Munich, Verma, also chief operating officer, explained his vision for the company, complementing a speech by chief strategy officer Shaun Connolly about generating revenues from open-source software, just ahead of the public company announcing its Q1 2017 financials.

Last year, the Santa Clara-based business posted a record annual revenue of $184.5m, but also a net loss for the whole year of just over $251m. Verma arrived in January to fill the vacant roles of president and chief operating officer amid a relative vacuum in Hortonworks' sales departments, with a number of workers seen away last year as part of "a shifting sales model" while the business continues to attempt to stop burning cash.

At the time, Hortonworks informed The Register that despite the adjusted EBITDA loss of $98,000 recorded in its filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, "when you take the foreign exchange into account, adjusted EBITDA is more like +$800,000."

Despite the impact of currency fluctuations, and responding to a question from The Register, Raj Verma asserted that Hortonworks would be retaining London as its international headquarters, but only as long as its customers didn't seek to flee the city.

"If Deutsche Bank goes to Frankfurt, I will have to hire more staff in Frankfurt," Verma said, before joking that he would like to stay in London because Hortonworks had "a very nice office" there and he loved the city's curries.

The warning signs of a potential move for Hortonworks would be other companies moving headquarters themselves, "especially the major financial institutions and telecommunications companies," which Hortonworks targets for its revenues.

Those revenues had not been aided by sales performance on an international scale, which led to a number of employee changes in 2016. Again responding to The Register, Verma said: "Sales churn is a fact of software life," adding that "change in leadership always results in [other] people leaving."

"There wasn't a change in the way we go to market," said Verma, rather he suggested that the existing sales team and management wasn't capable of delivering the kind of international growth which Hortonworks was chasing.

"When you get to a certain size, [sales] has to get a lot more process oriented, it has to get more accountable," he said. There were staff who could only really function in a small startup-like environment, which wasn't going to deliver the growth needed in international markets.

There was a "change in leadership internationally," said Verma, who admitted he didn't "feel comfortable doing that without the right leader," which they found in former MongoDB and Oracle man Joe Morrissey, who joined the company last November as veep of international, and was described by Verma as "the leader we needed". ®

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