March 26, 2012

Notes on the ClearStory Data launch, including an inaccurate quote from me

ClearStory Data launched, with nice coverage in the New York Times, Computerworld, and elsewhere. But from my standpoint, there were some serious problems:

I’m utterly disgusted with this whole mess, although after talking with her a lot I’m fine with CEO Sharmila Mulligan’s part in it, which is to say with ClearStory’s part in general.

*I avoid the term “platform” as much as possible; indeed, I still don’t really know what the “new platforms” part was supposed to refer to. The Frankenquote wound up with some odd grammar as well.

Actually, in principle I’m a pretty close adviser to ClearStory (for starters, they’re one of my stealth-mode clients). That hasn’t really ramped up yet; in particular, I haven’t had a technical deep dive. So for now I’ll just say:

1. I’m a huge Sharmila fan. I worked with her a lot at Aster, and she was that rarity — a chief marketing officer who excelled at all aspects of marketing, process management perhaps aside. (Aster marketing process management actually worked pretty well; but Steve Wooledge was there even before Sharmila, and Steve’s great at that stuff.)

Sharmila also has been a spot-on adviser to several other start-ups. I generally tell start-ups they’d do well to talk with her, and vice-versa.

2. Of ClearStory’s two techie cofounders, I interacted with John Cieslewicz a bit at Aster, and all my impressions are favorable.

3. My eyes glaze over a bit at the “cool BI UI” part of the story. I’m sure it will be wonderful, and cool business intelligence demos are really important for getting business. Even so, I think user interface is not what will make or break ClearStory. It’s also not the background of ClearStory’s founders.

4.  What’s really important technically at ClearStory, I believe, will be the middleware. “Semantic layer” requirements are much more demanding than they used to be, in at least two dimensions:

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