Revolution Analytics is a relaunch of a company previously known as REvolution Computing, built around the open source R language. Last week they sent around email claiming they were a new company (false), and asking for briefings in connection with an embargo this morning. I talked to Revolution Analytics yesterday, and they told me the embargo had been moved to Thursday.* However, Revolution apparently neglected to tell the press the same thing, and there’s an article out today — quoting me, because I’d given quotes in line with the original embargo, before I’d had the briefing myself. And what’s all this botched timing about? Mainly, it seems to be for a “statement of direction” about software Revolution Analytics hasn’t actually developed yet.
*More precisely, they spoke as if the embargo had been Thursday all along.
Anyhow, so far as I could tell, the Revolution Analytics story is something like:
- Revolution Analytics does statistical software. Any statistical software vendor that isn’t SAS (or SPSS) will be a lot cheaper than SAS, Revolution included.
- Revolution Analytics is adding closed-source extensions to the open source R project.
- In particular, Revolution Analytics has already added a visual development environment to R. I doubt it’s Eclipse-based, however, since Eclipse wasn’t mentioned once.
- Revolution Analytics also claims that R’s 4GL (Fourth-Generation Language) is a lot more useful than SAS’.
- A big knock on R is that you have to have your whole data set in RAM to use it. I didn’t gather that Revolution Analytics intends to fix this problem, but Revolution’s statement of direction includes something about parallel processing, so that you can use a cluster of machines at once. The Revolution folks were not in a position to usefully discuss how this will compare to, for example, Netezza’s implementation of R in TwinFin(i). (In fairness, Netezza hasn’t exactly released a lot of detail yet.)
- The R project, according to Revolution Analytics, boasts about 2000 contributors of statistical algorithmic extensions, from the investment community, from the investment and pharmaceutical industries, and so on.
- The R project, accordingly to Revolution Analytics, has about 20 core contributors, mainly academics. None works for Revolution, but one is on Revolution’s board.
- Last Fall, REvolution Computing fired half its employees, most of its management, and all of its board, in anticipation of a relaunch. Headquarters were also moved from Seattle to Silicon Valley, although development remains in Seattle.
- Revolution Analytics now has a little less than 30 people.