I had a great meeting with a Silicon Valley technology executive this afternoon. He was a very clever chap with all the right credentials: an engineering master’s, a top MBA, experience at Google. The works.
He asked us the standard set of questions that tech executives do.
- Is this a database or search engine? (Yes. As in both.)
- Does it have transaction consistency? (Yes.)
- Does it provide real-time search? (Yes.)
- Does it have a query language? (Yes. XQuery.)
- Does it scale? (Yes, to 100+ TB today)
- Does it cluster on cheap hardware? (Yes.)
- Do you require schema adherence? (No.)
- Can you handle semi-structured content? (Yes.)
- Is it native XML? (Yes.)
- What database does it run on? (Itself. i.e., it is a DBMS.)
- Do you use Lucene? (No. It has our own built-in search engine.)
- Is it a database bolted to a search engine? (No. It’s both but as an integral hybrid.)
We went to cover common customer use-cases, talking about the generic reasons why customers buy Mark Logic:
- Messy XML. (Various structures, unknown structures, changing structure.)
- Big content. (Tens to hundreds of terabytes and nothing else will perform.)
- DBMS/search-engine integration fatigue. (Tired of paying the costs of development, maintenance, and synchronization.)
- Semi-structured data. (Such as the wide, sparse table problem.)
- “Special” search requirements, where “special” could mean any combination of: structured, parametric, real-time, language-specific, or geo-coded search.
Then, suddenly, he caught us off-guard with his next question:
If you actually do all this, then why aren’t you bigger than Oracle?
In the meeting, we stumbled: “uh, gosh, well, that’s a question we don’t hear often.” Now, had I brought my A-game to the meeting, here’s what I would have said:
On an age-adjusted basis, we are.
For my source, check out this New York Times post, How Long Does It Take to Build a Technology Empire? The post measures various high-tech companies on their historical revenue ramps, specifically addressing the question how long did it take to get to $50M in revenues?
The answer for Oracle is 10 years. In Oracle’s year six, according to the graphic — which is interactive, you should play around with it — they were a mere $5M in inflation-adjusted revenues. Mark Logic, in year six (from its A-round funding) is many times that and should break $50M, in my estimation and with continued good fortune, in year 7.