The Subscription Economy with Cloudera


Our recent Subscription Economy segment on The Price of Business radio program, featured Kirk Dunn, Chief Operating Officer for Cloudera.

Here’s a transcript of the interview.

Kevin: Good morning, I am Kevin Price. Glad to be with you. Talking about you and your business, as always. Got a lot to cover on today’s program. I’m looking forward to spending some time with Seth Landy. He is with Kinetic Growth, that’s, and he’s a regular contributor here on The Price of Business. Love it when he brings great information, content and guests, and today will be no exception. Seth, before you introduce your guest today, tell us about Kinetic Growth.
Seth: Thanks Kevin. It’s great to be on the show. Kinetic Growth provides a unique combination of renewal management and e-commerce solutions. These solutions automate the process of tracking and managing subscriptions and enable an organization’s customers to self-serve.
Kevin: Very good. And tell us about your guest.
Seth: Kirk Dunn is the Chief Operating Officer of Cloudera. For those of you that don’t know, Cloudera develops and distributes the open source data processing software called Hadoop.
Kevin: Kirk, welcome to the program! Give us an overview of what you do.
Kirk: As Seth mentioned, Cloudera is a company that has taken a very interesting technology that germinated out of social networking companies which allowed them to grow and understand who their customers are and what they do, and we’ve commercialized that for enterprise businesses. So if large scale internet companies can use this technology to determine who is in their network, it certainly also applies that enterprises such as transportation companies, retail outlets, banks, airlines, et cetera, can understand who their customers are and how to serve them better utilizing this technology as well.
Seth: Kirk, your company is working with Big Data, and this is a topic that everyone is talking about. But I think it’s a difficult concept for people to understand. Can you break it down for us?
Kirk: Yes, certainly. Big Data is a bit of a misnomer, in the sense that there are a lot of organizations that for many years have been analyzing their data. For example, pharmaceutical companies that have been trying to analyze adverse drug effects: when you take drug A with drug B, does it have an impact on your health? Or credit card companies, for example, who are trying to determine if someone is using a credit card number fraudulently and they want to stop that. So, many of these things have been going on for years and years.

In some cases, as in the insurance business, actuarial science gives the ability to predict, amazingly enough, when or if somebody with a certain profile is going to have an auto accident, or something like that. So this has been going on for a long time.The really interesting part is that Big Data is doing an old thing in a new way. You can think of it as a lot of analytics being done in enterprises. Now with the products that we’ve developed, and the way we bring it to market, businesses have new tools to deal with some of the old problems. That would be point number one: solving old problems in new ways.

It’s also opened up a whole lot of opportunities. For example, when you think about your personal experience buying things online – maybe some of you have heard of recommendation engines. When you buy something online you get a list of recommended products that you will probably like. Well, that’s because analytics are going on in the background determining your buying patterns and your profile and therefore suggesting what you might like.

So really Big Data is two things. One, is doing old things that were in need of being done, but weren’t able to be done, in a new way, because of the new tools in software that we’re providing. And two is opening up a whole series of new opportunities to do things that were never able to be done, like recommendations of products in an online environment.

Kevin: That’s really fantastic. You mentioned that you are primarily geared towards enterprise, which are larger companies. What would a small company be, in terms of number of employees or revenue, that would be a client of yours?
Kirk: Yes, sure. They are really all over the map, as you can imagine. For small organizations, their data and their customers are just as important to them. We do things with large government agencies as well as small marketing companies that want to gain insight into their data.
Seth: Kirk, Cloudera has an interesting model where part of the solution is open source and available as a free download. How did Cloudera come up with this model and how is it working out as a business approach?
Kirk: That’s a great question. Open source has been around since Linus Torvalds decided to disrupt the technology area with the invention of Linux. Really what open source is about is the ability to allow customers to keep their data freedom. They can keep their data in their environment, not subject to a software company’s “vertical integration” and lock-in. That’s point one.

Point two is we also build on top of the open source platform to build features and capabilities that we offer as a subscription. So, part of it is your ability to use the software for free, as long as you want. The other part is, for the features that we build that you like and add value, you pay us for those.

Kevin: Very good. We’ve got to wrap it up, but I do want to mention one more time the website for Cloudera. That’s “Cloudera dot com” (, exactly like it sounds. Seth, any final thoughts before we wrap it up?
Seth: Kirk, can you close it out by sharing the vision for Cloudera? What’s next for you guys?
Kirk: Well, we’ve grown quite fast, doubling every year. This is an opportunity for businesses to transform themselves in amazing ways, so we expect to continue to grow rapidly over the next few years. I expect you’ll see Cloudera in the market and as a longstanding company for many years to come.
Kevin: Sounds good. Thanks to both of you gentlemen. Kirk Dunn, Seth Landy. Seth is a regular contributor here on The Price of Business. Thanks to both of you and great job!

Note: the interview transcript is lightly edited for clarity and length