"Big data" has emerged as an often-used catch phrase over the past year to describe exponentially growing data stores, and increasingly companies are bolstering their product lines to address the challenge. But helping companies manage and derive benefit from the onslaught of data has consistently been the focus for MarkLogic Corporation, whose flagship product, MarkLogic Server, is a purpose-built database for unstructured information.
The company, which has roughly 240 customers in industries, including media, government and financial services, recently announced Ken Bado as its new chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors. "Unstructured data, literally and figuratively, is huge. Clearly, 80% of the data that is generated every day by all of us is unstructured. The question is: How do you deal with it?" Bado tells DBTA.
Traditional approaches to data management that rely on relational database technology do not effectively manage this data particularly well, Bado states. However, he adds, this is what MarkLogic does very well." What even appealed to him further, he says, was the fact that no one knew MarkLogic. "MarkLogic is sort of a niche player. We haven't declared markets. Even mentioning the word ‘unstructured' was not something that we talked about regularly." Instead, the term "big data" is often used, and, he notes, even within that umbrella, "We hardly ever get mentioned."
MarkLogic has "years of experience helping our customers harness mountains of information, petabyte-scale databases, in order to solve mission-critical problems by building out new applications, quickly and easily," points out Ron Avnur, vice president of engineering at MarkLogic. "And, we have an architecture that makes use of a shared-nothing approach, using commodity hardware to help us scale with reasonable cost."
The majority of MarkLogic customers, Bado says, use its technology for mission-critical applications. And, looking to the future, he says, it is clear that MarkLogic needs "to move away from the children's table, and take our position at the adults' table - and ideally take a position at the head of the table because I think what we have to offer here is really game-changing."
Bado says the company will add 150 employees over the coming year. As for the possibility of taking the company public, Bado acknowledges, "certainly that is something that we want to do and there are lot of advantages to that. The thing that we are trying to do right now is treat ourselves as a public company in the way that we do our business, and good public companies have sustainable revenue streams with tons of loyal customers. So I think if we focus on our knitting, vis-à-vis making sure these customers are successful, and building scale on top of that, we'll eventually do an IPO - and I have no doubt about that."
New Directions for MarkLogic
In terms of new directions for the company as he takes the reins, Bado says, "First of all, you are going to see a much more aggressive message from MarkLogic with respect to unstructured and specifically ‘big data,' as we get ahead of that curve. I am typically not a chest-thumping person, but I think this company needs that because it is not some science project. People are doing mission-critical applications every day. One of the best examples I can think of is our work with the government and certain three-letter agencies that are really protecting our nation. The amount of data that they are managing to save lives every single day is impressive." What some of MarkLogic's publishing customers are doing with large amounts of data in transforming their businesses from traditional business models to the digital age is also impressive, he adds. MarkLogic will be "much more aggressive" in the future in bringing that message to market, Bado says.
In addition, there will also be changes seen in the company's go-to-market approach, he says. "Right now, our business model is a direct model through an enterprise-type selling machine, that has been quite effective in getting us to where we are, but there are three other levels that we need to address pragmatically to help us build scale and grow."
The first level is to increasingly leverage partners on more than an ad hoc basis, to help MarkLogic access markets in a way that will be more effective than doing so on its own. A second part involves forging a stronger relationship with the developer community. "At the end of the day our technology works and I think we need to make it very easy and accessible for developers to have access to our products. When they do, they will be pleasantly surprised," he says. "The MarkLogic solution is true 21st century technology that they need to solve their business problems." The last area is similar to expanding use with developers, and that is in education, and specifically student communities. "Frankly, we rely on an educated workforce to determine our success and students are a big part of that," Bado notes.
Bado was at Autodesk for 8 years and led sales and services under former Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz. According to MarkLogic, during his time at Autodesk, Bado was key in driving revenue from $800 million to more than $2.3 billion, and the company's share price increased more than 800% during his tenure.
"We are very excited to have Ken Bado leading MarkLogic in the next wave of its expansion," said Mark Kvamme, partner, Sequoia Capital, and a member of the board of directors, in a statement included in the MarkLogic press release announcing Bado's appointment. "Ken is a seasoned technology executive and the leader that the board was looking for. We met many candidates, and Ken was the obvious choice. He has a strong track record of deep management expertise, driving technological innovation and building customer and partner relationships. With a clear vision of what MarkLogic is and where it is headed, Ken is the perfect person to lead the company into the next era."
Prior to Autodesk, Bado spent 11 years at Mentor Graphics, in positions of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing, customer support, and consulting before becoming senior vice president of world trade, where he managed 1,200 people. Before that, he was a sales representative at Intergraph Corporation.
MarkLogic is headquartered in Silicon Valley with field offices in Austin, Boston, Frankfurt, London, New York, and Washington DC. The company is privately held with investors Sequoia Capital and Tenaya Capital. For more information, and to download a trial version, go to www.marklogic.com.
MarkLogic Users Conference
The MarkLogic 2011 User Conference is taking place this week at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, Calif. "Having the users together is important for us and obviously to hear from them about what they are thinking, but also for them to hear from us about the directions we are taking," Bado says. MarkLogic's customers are "very passionate" users because many of them have put their careers on the line to solve problems for their enterprises that were not being solved by traditional relational database technologies, he notes. "They went out on a limb to recommend and choose MarkLogic and so we want to make sure too that they feel the appreciation from us for what they have done, and going forward." For more information, go to www.marklogicevents.com.