Hadoop runs out of gas

As big data customers flee complexity and embrace the cloud, Hadoop vendors are sputtering

Hadoop runs out of gas

Big data remains a big deal, but that fact is somewhat obscured by the recent stumbling of its former poster children: Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR. Once the darlings of data, able to raise gargantuan piles of cash—Intel pumped $766 million into Cloudera in just one investment round!—the heavyweights have been forced to skinny down, whether by merging (Cloudera and Hortonworks) or cutting heads (MapR).

Meanwhile, other open source big data vendors like Elastic and MongoDB are soaring. What gives? There is, of course, a variety of reasons, among them the fact that the erstwhile Hadoop vendors bet big on the wrong audience, namely architects bound to the data center, while the market shifted to developers seeking freedom in the cloud.

Big is relative

MapR is the latest casualty of the vendors that grew fat on Hadoop’s riches. Once valued at over $1 billion, MapR recently revealed that it must lay off 122 employees (roughly 25 percent of its employee base) including its CEO, John Schroeder, other senior executives, and many engineers, while also shutting down its headquarters location, unless it can find an investor.

That investor must sign on by June 14 or MapR’s future looks dismal.

But then, so does its recent past. Over the last two years, according to LinkedIn data, MapR has shrunk 29 percent. Nor is it alone. After combining with Hortonworks (presumably because the two companies couldn’t subsist solo), Cloudera just announced calamitous earnings, projecting $69 million to $89 million less in revenue than analysts were projecting. At the same time, CEO Tom Reilly and CSO and co-founder Mike Olson both announced their resignations.

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