Nine-year-old big data company Cloudera dropped its S-1 on Friday, registering its intent to raise $200 million in an IPO. The company's private valuation, based on various reports, is upwards of $4 billion, and it's raised more than $500 million in venture capital. Cloudera plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol CLDR.

The S-1 reveals that revenue was $261 million in the fiscal year that ended in January, while losses were $187.3 million in the preceding year. Cloudera is built around the open-source Hadoop software library, meaning it will be 2017's second enterprise tech IPO based on open-source software, following Mulesoft.

Hadoop, according to the Wall Street Journal, began life at Yahoo in the mid-2000s as a programming language, evolving into an application to help businesses make sense of data pouring through their networks. "By 2008, a group of engineers from Yahoo, Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Oracle Corp. formed Cloudera with the goal of bringing Hadoop to businesses outside of tech," according to the Journal.

The reliance on open-source software leads to unusual dependencies. In the S-1's risk section, Cloudera calls out the Apache Software Foundation, which oversees Hadoop:

We do not control nor can we predict the decisions the ASF will make with respect to the further development and enhancement of open source technologies which may impact our business. For example, the reduction or elimination of support of Hadoop, Spark or other technologies by the ASF, the migration of Hadoop, Spark and other open source data management technology to an organization other than the ASF, or any other actions taken by the ASF or the Hadoop project may impact our business model.

The S-1 continues to point out that "any undetected errors or defects in [the] open source software [that Cloudera's technology is based on] could prevent the deployment or impair the functionality of our solutions, delay new solutions introductions, result in a failure of our solutions, result in liability to our customers, and injure our reputation."

Parker Thompson, an early-stage investor who keeps a close eye on the software market, says enterprises have invested heavily in Hadoop, and Cloudera has an edge.

"Cloudera is one of a few leading companies in here," he wrote, in an email to Inc. "I personally think the most interesting dynamic within the space today is that these companies make it easy to store massive amounts of data, but extracting value is still hard. This is still a key missing skill in the industry and my understanding is that companies like Cloudera end up having to help customers with this part of the equation as well to drive software sales."

Published on: Mar 31, 2017