Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Tidemark Comes Out of Stealth With Funding from Greylock, Andreessen Horowitz

It has been a little more than a year since word went around that Andreessen Horowitz had invested $6.3 million in a mysterious stealth start-up called Proferi. Today that company is coming out of stealth with a new name: Tidemark.

It also got a new round of funding, including an investment from Greylock Partners, that brings its total capital raised so far to $11 million. Also joining Tidemark’s board are Peter Currie, president of Currie Capital; and Phil Wilmington, former co-president of PeopleSoft and the CEO of OutlookSoft. Both have joined Tidemark’s board of directors. Also on the board are Aneel Bhusri, co-CEO at Workday and a Greylock Partner; and Ben Horowitz, partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

Tidemark is building what it calls an Enterprise Performance Management application — all in the cloud — but it is also built from the ground up with mobile applications in mind. I had lunch with CEO Christian Gheorghe last week, and I have to say that what he described to me sounded, at first, a lot like what I’ve heard from lots of other companies wanting to give business leaders useful, up-to-the-minute business information they can act on.

Too often in business intelligence and analytics, projects fail to deliver, Gheorghe says, because they’re good at showing data but lousy in leading to action. “They give you a lot of information, but the next step is what to do about it,” he says. “What are the courses of action I can take, how do I react to what’s happening?”

And maybe this sounds familiar: Data from one application that you’d like to use is tricky to move over into another. “We call it the alt-tab syndrome,” Gheorghe says. “You have to alt-tab between applications, some of which were built before the Internet, back in the client-server era.”

Lots of the existing business intelligence tools are old, not designed to be mobile or to handle volatility in the markets, and they don’t deal well with unstructured data, which everyone seems to want to get a handle on these days.

Gheorghe spent five years and change at SAP, including a stint as its CTO, by way of its acquisition of OutlookSoft. He then spent about nine months as Greylock’s Entrepreneur in Residence. During that time, he realized a perfect storm was happening: If you had to build the business of analytics from scratch, it would solve the problem of making you both cloud-ready and mobile, but also ready to handle mountains of big data. “We found a lot of pain in the core analytic processes that companies had spent a lot of money trying to solve,” he says. Pain like that creates an opportunity for the one who can make it go away.

Tidemark aims to deliver real-time metrics information that has been adjusted for risk and which takes into account all the various strategic, financial and operational forecasting a business does. “There are so many things that the consumer-side companies have done with big data like Facebook and Zynga, but nothing like that has happened in the enterprise,” he says. “Basically they’re still using things that are drilling down and across in grids that no one uses, and dashboards that are two weeks behind.”

Tidemark is launching three applications: Metrics Management and Management Reporting, which aims to answer not the “what’s happening?” question about a business but “why is it happening?”; Enterprise Planning, the classic budgeting, forecasting and analysis functions; and Profitability Monitoring by product, customer and channel — essentially where you’re making and losing money.

The company has also teamed up with three partners: SnapLogic has hooked up with Tidemark to integrate data in the cloud. And since you can’t seem to do anything in big data these days without using some version of Hadoop, the open source big data platform, Tidemark says it has signed up with Cloudera, which sells its own tricked-out version of Hadoop; and VMware, whose vCloud will run Tidemark’s cloud.

Gheorghe’s backstory is interesting. He escaped communist Romania in the late 1980s, but what moved him to leave wasn’t entirely political. He was involved in the trade of bootleg cassette tapes and heard Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” As a product of the evil West, it was forbidden under the regime of Nicolai Ceaușescu. Gheorghe decided there was no way that a country that produced such music could be all that bad. So off he went.

It was of course more complicated than that, but the anecdote serves as a pretty good metaphor for what Gheorge is trying to do with Tidemark, Horowitz says. Yes, there are an awful lot of companies that seek to use the cloud to provide business intelligence. “There’s a lot of new things out there, including, Successfactors, any of them, they’re new but they bring a lot of the old software paradigms with them,” he says. “None of them have been a complete re-think. But Christian has really done it. It’s ironic that he was the one who could get his mind out of the old paradigm, having been in it for the last 15 years.”

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