High-Flying Cloudera has Deep Berkeley Roots

The Intel company’s logo proudly proclaims when a product has Intel Inside®. Now Cloudera has Intel on its side, having recently announced the microprocessing giant’s $740 million backing of Cloudera’s analytic data management services.

Palo Alto-based Cloudera, co-founded by Chief Strategy Officer, Mike Olson ’91, MS ’92 and headed by Chief Executive Officer, Tom Reilly ’85 and Vice President of Marketing, Alan Saldich ’87, made public the Intel investment in late March as part of a spectacular $900 million round of funding that also included investments by Google Ventures, Michael Dell and T. Rowe Price. The Wall Street Journal writes this investment “puts the deal into a tie for second-highest financing on record for venture-backed companies, trailing only Facebook Inc.’s $1.5 billion financing in 2010.”

Cloudera is in the vanguard of the fast-growing big data industry. The company has built its business on Apache Hadoop, which is an open-source data storage, processing and analytics software framework. Cloudera products leverage the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of open-source technology, while adding robust services that allow businesses to manage, query and gain insight from massive data flows—insights that may make all the difference to company growth.

Cloudera Co-Founder and CEO Mike Olson ’91, MS ’92, and CEO Tom Reilly ’85

Cloudera’s plans are ambitious, reflecting the perseverance and vision of the Berkeley grads who lead the company. “I worked on database systems research at Berkeley as an undergrad and grad student,” said Olson. “Cal was a systems school—we built and shipped big software as part of the research that we did. I worked on the Postgres database project, which was full of new ideas and which remains hugely popular today, twenty years later. That experience—creating innovative software, delivering it, thinking hard about real-world problems—was a tremendous foundation for a tech entrepreneur, and absolutely shaped my career and Cloudera.

Cloudera benefits from more than Intel’s deep pockets: Cloudera will be able to give their clients quicker access to Intel’s latest products. And Intel gets Cloudera’s facility with and distribution network for Hadoop’s big data analytics. “Intel expects that Hadoop will be the most widely deployed software on data center servers, and they have bet on Cloudera because we’re leading the market,” said Saldich. “Like Linux, virtualization and scale-out computing before, Hadoop is one of those sea-changes in computing technologies that really disrupt the status quo, and we’re excited to be part of the transformation of the data management market and the creation of huge new value and opportunities from data.”

The Berkeley roots of this innovation story run deep. Both Cloudera and Intel were co-founded by Cal grads, and are just two companies in the greater ecosystem of UC Berkeley’s Silicon Valley successes. Before joining Cloudera, Saldich was employee #1 at Riverbed and helped to take the company public, and before that he was an early employee at FastForward Networks which was acquired by early web search pioneer Inktomi—all three were founded or co-founded by Cal Grads. Mike Olson is on the Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences (EECS) department advisory board; and Tom Reilly, known for his spectacular leadership of ArcSight (acquired by HP for $1.5 billion), has lectured at several Berkeley Engineering events. Both Olson and Saldich make their homes in Berkeley as well.

Cloudera’s ties to Berkeley will only get stronger, as the company is part of the Cal Startup Network, a new program that connects job-seeking students and alumni to Cal-built pre-IPO companies, and its executives are committed to staying involved. “When I was interviewing and learned that Mike and Alan were Cal grads I knew the rest of the organization had to be made of top talent. I was right, because smart entrepreneurs attract smart people. We are excited about the talent and innovation coming out of Berkeley’s College of Engineering that is driving the growth of Big Data,” said Reilly.