MapR Technologies Inc. has removed Chief Executive Matt Mills (pictured, right) and replaced him with founder and Executive Chairman John Schroeder (left).
The move comes less than two years after Mills, a veteran of Oracle Corp. was appointed CEO with considerable fanfare in what the big-data management firm called an evolutionary move to help the company manage its growth. While at Oracle, Mills had headed an 8,000-person team supporting a multi-billion-dollar business.
MapR gave no reason for the sudden change, but in an interview with SiliconANGLE, Schroeder implied that the board of directors believed that the company had lost some of its technology edge. “Matt put in a lot of hard work here,” he said. “He built out our go-to-market team with quality people. We’re proud of that asset, but we wanted to make sure the focus was on the product.”
Schroeder said the decision to remove Mills was “carefully considered and executed, although it always looks like a surprise.” Asked if the decision was behavior-related in light of numerous recent executive resignations amid sexual harassment chargers, Schroeder said, “There’s no tie to harassment of any sort. It was more around the strategy and philosophy of running the company.”
MapR was one of the three prominent startups — along with Cloudera Inc. and Hortonworks Inc. — to spring from the early popularity of the Hadoop big data platform. It’s the only one that has yet to go public, although the company has made no secret of its ambitions to do so. However, the weak stock performance of its peers — Cloudera and Hortonworks are both more than 20 percent off their all-time highs in a bull market — has prompted MapR to bide its time. The company closed a $56 million private-equity funding round in September.
At the time, Mills said the funding came at a higher valuation than the company’s previous round in 2016, which according to Forbes was a “down round,” meaning at a lower valuation than the previous one. That seemed to indicate that MapR’s investors were optimistic even as competing distributors of the open-source big-data management framework Hadoop expand their own turf.
Btu that isn’t translating into renewed talk of an IPO, at least not yet. “We looked at the performance of some of the companies in this space and drew the conclusion that they probably came out too early,” Schroeder said. “We raised that round of private equity to mature the company for a few more quarters.”
By MapR’s own account, business is going well. A spokesman said year-over-year subscription billings grew 66 percent and the company maintains a 95 percent customer retention rate. Customers typically spend 50 percent more when renewing their licenses.
MapR and its competitors depend to varying degrees on using open-source software such as Hadoop, so investors have always questioned how they will make much money. And it may get tougher yet as big cloud computing providers such as Amazon Web Services Inc., Microsoft Corp.’s Azure and Google Cloud Platform offer potentially more integrated data services.
Hadoop no longer has the cachet it once did, Schroeder said. “It isn’t the hot new thing is was in 2009 or 2010,” he said. “Early on, it gave us easier access to customers, but we have a much broader platform now.”
The company has been steadily adding capabilities to its product lines. Last September, MapR announced an overhaul of its product line to handle a much broader set of use cases than before, including the “internet of things” and artificial intelligence- or machine learning-infused applications. And in November, MapR launched a new version of its flagship Converged Data Platform, focusing on DataOps, a variation on the DevOps rapid application development process that aims to save time and improve the quality of results in data analytics projects.
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