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Buliding a Venture Scale Analytics Platform Company: Birst CEO, Brad Peters (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, Mar 27th 2014

Sramana Mitra: You were at Siebel through that acquisition?

Brad Peters: No, I wasn’t. You could see the writing on the wall. Analytics was exploding. We were doing really well, but the rest of the company was not doing so well. It was actually shrinking. You could tell that the company was on a collision course with something else. It just wasn’t adapting to newer technologies and architectures. There were a couple of observations that came out of that experience. We had this analytics product that was doing really well, which was basically tackling the idea that normal business people in organizations need data to make decisions and that seemed to be something that was insatiable and was going to continue to grow for some time. There was huge demand for that.

The core business was getting creamed because it was an old legacy business using older technologies and these new cloud companies were coming in. They were dramatically simpler, easier to install, manage, execute, and deploy. They were just disrupting the business model out from under Siebel. My co-founder and I came to the conclusion that, “Hey, all the things that Salesforce was doing to disrupt the model for Siebel’s core business also applied to BI and analytics. There should be a marriage there too. Let’s go see if we can try to bring the two together.” That led to the founding of this company in 2005.

Sramana Mitra: What specifically did you initially set out to do?

Brad Peters: To take BI and analytics – which were at that time and still largely today, very cumbersome and complex point technologies. Companies like SAP acquire lots of little companies and if you wanted to do something with analytics, you had to cobble together a lot of these things yourself. You never really bought the car off the lot. You had to put it together yourself. That’s the task that IT organizations had to build competencies around. I didn’t even like it. It was very cumbersome.

Sramana Mitra: Were you going after the enterprise market?

Brad Peters: Yes, this is definitely enterprise. There are different levels of enterprise but the idea was, “Regardless, all enterprises need access to data and if we can use the cloud to make this a dramatically more seamless experience and make it simpler to deploy and manage, we can get analytics out to a much wider audience.” It’s so cumbersome that only a relatively small percentage of people get access to these tools. If we could make it significantly simpler, we could open the market significantly. We could expand the horizons to the 20% of the people who need it and make it 50%. That was the idea. There’s a lot to it. It’s taken years to build the technology, but that was the premise of the company.

When you ask about how we built the company, there is so much technology involved. Doing it overnight with a small team of founders who had never started a company before, we had a whole host of challenges. We sequenced it out over a number of years as opposed to doing it all at once. I suppose if you’ve been a successful entrepreneur, you could raise a ton of money and go do it right away. That wasn’t really our angle on this. We had a longer transition of bringing cloud analytics together. In the shorter term, we conquered our immediate challenges so we could build the infrastructure always with that in mind.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Buliding a Venture Scale Analytics Platform Company: Birst CEO, Brad Peters
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