Cloudera Raises $900 Million, Declares War On The Data Center Old Guard

Let’s be clear: Cloudera just raised an insane amount of money—$900 million, to be exact.

This gargantuan pile of cash dwarfs what most companies raise in an IPO. But Cloudera’s biggest news in the past week isn’t about money. It’s about going to war against legacy data center vendors, with Intel at its side.

The big news in Cloudera’s flurry of announcements is actually its partnership with Intel, which the company hopes will make Cloudera’s Hadoop distribution the heart of the Big Data uprising.

Intel used to have its own Hadoop distribution, but last week, Intel dumped its home-grown distribution to adopt Cloudera’s. While $900 million is a lot of money, it pales in comparison to the mountains of cash both Cloudera and Intel expect to make through their partnership.

I spoke with Cloudera chief strategy officer Mike Olson this morning to get insight into the funding round.

ReadWrite: Last week you announced a $160 million funding round. Given that you knew the full $900 million round was just around the corner, why announce a sliver of it? Did Bloomberg’s report force your hand?

Mike Olson: We held the funding announcement wrapping up the entire Series F because, had we dropped that news last week, it would have been the story. No one could have seen past the $900M number. And, of course, there’s some justification there—it’s a lot of money.

RW: $900 million isn’t the story? It’s a pretty bold declaration of intent…

MO: It genuinely is true that the important story here is the commercial relationship we’ve crafted with Intel. We go to market together, and that’s fantastic for us both—we reach many more customers directly and through our partners. We build better software that takes advantage of Intel silicon innovations, and get it into the open source sooner. Our customers get the best product earlier and get more value from their data.

Intel’s foresight in the data center is remarkable. When Linux began to break, they crafted a relationship with Red Hat. When virtualization emerged as a new technology, they invested a considerable sum in VMware. We believe that big data, as a creator of new value and market opportunity, will dwarf those. Intel and Cloudera expect to do great things together.

RW: So does this mean an IPO is not in the cards?

MO: Not at all. Of course, we now have very deep resources that let us invest for the long term. We still hope and plan, one day, to be a publicly-traded company. An IPO for Cloudera, though, won’t be a funding event. We can enter the market when it makes most sense to do so, and for strategic reasons other than a need for cash.

I have never been more bullish on the market or on our company. Lots of hard work we need to do well before us, but we’ve put together a hell of a team.

——

Over the course of our conversation—not all of which was captured above—Olson kept hammering on the importance of the Intel relationship. Name a company that has deeper, longer-standing relationships with every major hardware and software vendor, particularly in the data center. If you were hoping to enmesh yourself into the very fabric of the future data center, is there a better partner to do this?

Possibly, but Intel is pretty darn close. By claiming $740 million of Intel’s money, Cloudera now has its attention in a big way. The cash is nice, but it’s the relationship that matters.

Make no mistake. This is a declaration of war. War on incumbent data infrastructure providers, but it’s also war on an increasingly outdated way of thinking about data. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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