Hortonworks Quietly Shuffles Its Management Team

Hortonworks new logo

Hortonworks new logo This morning Hortonworks announced its training and certification program. What it didn’t announce that is that it has quietly shuffled its management team, a fact that’s reflected on its website. The biggest change, as spotted by GigaOM’s Derrick Harris, is that co-founder Eric Baldeschwieler is now CTO and not CEO. Rob Bearden, formerly COO, is now the CEO.

Update: HortonWorks has confirmed the personnel changes and denies any shift in its strategy.

This is a pretty common sort of reorg for a startup. Technical co-founders often find themselves in the CEO role in early incarnations of a company and then move into other roles as the company grows (Cloudant co-founder Alan Hoffman becoming head of product to make room for new CEO Derek Schoettle comes to mind). But according to Harris the board always wanted Bearden as CEO, and two of Baldeschwieler’s recent hires, VP of Engineering Mark Himelstein and VP of Customer Support Marko Nicosia, are no longer with the company. Supposedly the board is tired of Hortonworks “service only” business model and wants the company to offer a paid product.

Harris writes:

I’ve heard that Cloudera’s big OEM deal with Oracle, through which Cloudera’s distribution of Hadoop is integrated with the Oracle Big Data Appliance, sent Hortonworks into panic mode, but I’m not sold on that explanation. Hortonworks actually has a unique consulting business that has signed up mega clients such as Microsoft. Microsoft actually killed its years-in-the-making Dryad big data platform to focus on Hadoop, with Hortonworks helping Microsoft integrate Hadoop into its product lineup. I’ve also heard that Hortonworks has raised $50 million from investors in less than a year.

The partnership with Microsoft may have tempered word of Cloudera’s partnership with Oracle, but Cloudera’s deal to sell product through Oracle sounds like the more appealing deal.

According to Wikibon’s projections, Cloudera is expected to generate $18 million in revenue in 2012 and Hortonworks is expected to generate $3 million. Oracle is expected to do $450 million in big data revenue (out of its $360,000 million total revenue), but not all of that is necessarily expected to be Hadoop related.

Services Angle

Few companies have been able to replicate Red Hat’s support driven, all open source model. In recent years the “open core” model that involves building a proprietary solution on top of an open source platform has become increasingly popular (though not without controversy – see my article on open washing). Services may drive huge revenues, but company covet the margins of software sales. Hortonworks may have a hard time maintaining its all free open source software roots.