Hadoop-flinger MapR: Yes to IPO, profits 'soon after'

Call of Cloudera and Hortonworks?

MapR Technologies, a data management platform headquartered in San Jose, California, is going for IPO – but not yet, the company’s chief executive Matt Mills said today.

Speaking to The Register in London, Mills said flotation is on the cards but declined to name a date. He joined MapR as president and chief operating office in October 2015 and was promoted to CEO a year later. This follows a 20-year stint at Oracle where he served as vice president and general manager.

“I want to go to IPO but I want to be respectful of the process,” Mills told us. That means he wants to “get a couple of quarters under the belt” and for a relatively new management team to gain more experience.

MapR is talking to a “number” of bankers, including Goldman Sachs, he said.

Mills denied that either he or the firm was under pressure to IPO.

Founded in 2009, MapR has taken on $194m in five rounds of VC funding. IPO is typically one of two outcomes that VC backers of firms wish to see – the other being acquisition.

“With other people’s money, there’s always pressure,” Mills said, but said this was nothing unusual and had not affected his decision or timing.

Two of MapR’s best known rivals have floated – Hortonworks, first, in 2014 and Cloudera recently in April.

The market for self-styled big-data firms is rich with hype but profitable returns have proved less easy then their backers might have wished.

For all the talk of data as the mainstay of the fourth industrial revolution, relatively few Hadoop projects are making it into production.

Sales are taking longer than anticipated for vendors, which continue to make losses despite growing sales. HortonWorks unsettled Wall Street's big data believers in January when it announced a planned secondary IPO to raise $100m.

Gartner research vice president Merv Adrian has pegged the number at 15 per cent.

Mills reckoned he was “seeing the same thing” among MapR customers but attributed this to the fact that many start as skunkworks.

“The idea that the majority of the market doesn’t make it into production is accurate," he said.

According to Mills, MapR’s sales are growing, with an average deal size greater than $100,000, but he wouldn’t comment on costs or losses.

He reckoned MapR had become more discerning about customers – targeting larger deals, unlike in its early days. “We used to sell to anybody who answered the phone; now we target the global 2,000 – we go after people who target data,” he said.

He said the firm had customers in market research, online advertising and financial services.

“We are trading in the direction of what you’d expect from a software company thinking about a public offering – we are in that neighbourhood,” he said.

Mills anticipates that MapR wil hit profit soon after an IPO. “We won’t be burning cash. We will be a stable company very shortly after we are a public company.”

The current focus is on sales, marketing and consulting. It also need to pick up speed in building a MapR partner ecosystem, and it is keen to explore growth opportunities in China. ®


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