INTERVIEW-Cloudera seeks CFO as Big Data firms gear up for IPOs
* To hire CFO this year and nearly double workforce by 2013
* Says has no IPO plans yet; but investors watching
* Cloudera may be acquired before it goes public - Gartner analyst
By Sayantani Ghosh
Aug 22 (Reuters) - Cloudera, a privately held data analytics company targeting the fast growing market for crunching huge volume of data, is looking to hire a chief financial officer as it edges closer to an IPO.
The company plays down the prospect, saying it isn't thinking about an initial public offering just yet and has not retained an IPO adviser, but investors say the "Big Data" business is attractive and expect such firms to feature in upcoming listings.
"We are not really thinking about (an IPO) right now. We are building our business and focusing on acquiring customers," Cloudera's chief operating officer, Kirk Dunn, told Reuters.
"But its something that we hope to do, we expect to do in the future."
Along with plans to have a CFO in place before the end of the year, the company was hiring aggressively. It expects to almost double the number of employees to 500 from the current 275, Dunn said.
Interest in "Big Data" companies spiked after another data analytics software maker, Splunk Inc (SPLK.O), made a successful debut on the Nasdaq in April. [ID:nL3E8FJAGH]
"While the IPO market for consumer Internet companies has been doused with cold water, I think investors are tremendously interested in investment opportunities in these companies," said Lise Buyer, founder of IPO advisory firm Class V Group.
Cloudera's products use an open source software platform called Apache Hadoop that was developed by Google Inc (GOOG.O) and Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O).
"In the old data management world you had to know the question you wanted answered; so you formatted the question, loaded the data, turned the crank and got an answer," Dunn said.
"With Hadoop you don't ask a particular question. You let the data tell you what the question should be."
Cloudera has over 130 customers including eBay Inc (EBAY.O), Groupon Inc (GRPN.O) and Rackspace Hosting Inc (RAX.N). Dunn said the company also serves large banks and intelligence agencies, but declined to name them.
A SUITABLE MATCH
"'Big Data' is big money ... many organizations are expending significant resources on 'big data' projects, or are planning to," said Merv Adrian, an analyst at market resaerch firm Gartner.
The interest in Big Data has spurred bigger tech companies such as Oracle Corp (ORCL.O), IBM Corp (IBM.N), Hewlett Packard Co (HPQ.N), EMC Corp (EMC.N) and Dell Inc (DELL.O) to form partnerships with firms like Cloudera.
Earlier this year, media reports suggested that software maker Oracle might be a suitor for the company after the two signed a partnershi. But the talks faded.
Cloudera's biggest competitors are Hortonworks — a company formed by Yahoo in 2011 — and San Jose, California-based startup MapR.
Adrian said interest in Cloudera is very high and it could be bought before going public if a buyer saw that as a cheaper option.
Cloudera has raised $76 million in four rounds since 2009, the last being in November.
It counts Accel Partners and Greylock Partners as investors and has no immediate plans for more fund raising, Dunn said.
"Among a healthy number of data companies out there Cloudera has done a terrific job in elevating their name to near the head of the pack," Class V Group's Buyer said.
She expects at least a couple of Big Data companies to go public in 2013 and many more to list in 2014 as early investors in these companies seek exits.
(Editing by Rodney Joyce and Joyjeet Das in Bangalore)
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