MarkLogic: Now a Unicorn in Database Land

May 12, 2015

I read “Database Vendor MarkLogic Joins Billion Dollar Club with New Funding.” The main point for me is that MarkLogic is described as a “database vendor.” MarkLogic has been working hard to explain that it is an enterprise search vendor, a business intelligence vendor, and an XML publishing system appropriate for finance, health care, and publishing. There is MarkLogic DNA in Autonomy.

The headline brushes these assertions away, clearing the path for the unicorn to charge directly in the face of Oracle and maybe IBM.

According to the write up:

MarkLogic in the last few years has gained several new database rivals–including Cloudera Inc., last valued at $4.1 billion; MongoDB Inc., last valued at $1.6 billion; MapR Technologies Inc.; and Datastax Inc.–in addition to traditional competitors Oracle, Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. MarkLogic customers include Dow Jones & Co., which publishes VentureWire and The Wall Street Journal. The company said the new money would be used to expand globally across Europe, Japan and Asia and invested in MarkLogic partners and in research and development.

Is this what MarkLogic will do with the money? I thought some of it would be allocated to purchase other firms; for example, companies which allegedly shore up MarkLogic’s content processing gaps. Concept Searching, Content Analyst, Smartlogic? Also, there may be some long suffering investors who want a payback for the millions pumped into the company. I noticed that the lead investor was Wellington Management with some help from Arrowpoint Partners.

Before the current president, I was working for some of the nifty outfits in Sillycon Valley. I learned that MarkLogic had missed some important financial targets. A spin of the revolving door put some new faces in familiar positions.

If one looks for MarkLogic today, the company is findable, but it maintains a comparatively low profile. I dropped the blog from my useful source list. I can’t recall the last time I saw a substantive link to the company in Twitter. I don’t see the company at some of the conferences I attend, but, hey, I attend some very specialized information centric hoe downs.

Several observations:

Oracle may expand on its”we’re a better XML database white paper which you can find here. An earlier paper called “Mark Logic XML Server 4.1” points out some issues which Oracle perceived in the MarkLogic approach. In a shoot out with Oracle, the bullets will fly. Does MarkLogic have the arsenal to deal with Oracle’s cache of armaments?

Will proprietary NoSQL data management systems be able to generate a billion in revenue in the next six or eight quarters? Outfits like Lucid Imagination (Really?) have been running into headwinds, and I think a similar weather system may turn MarkLogic’s sunny skies into a cloudy day. I understand that the Wall Street Journal is a MarkLogic believer? How many more can MarkLogic bring to its picnic? The assumption, I assume, is a lot.

MarkLogic’s core technology dates from 2001. Like many companies from this time period, MarkLogic has to find a way to get that old time start up excitement back. Companies which are 14 years old often continue along the same trajectory in my experience.

This will be interesting and maybe a big payday for the increasingly strapped owners of companies with technology which can caulk some leaks in the MarkLogic lake raft.

Stephen E Arnold, May 12, 2015


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