Summary:

Unstructured database provider MarkLogic has a new CEO with big-business experience and plans to take fast-growing company public. MarkLogic is nowhere near the size of CEO Ken Bado’s former employer, Autodesk, but it does have a healthy business that belies its relative youth and NoSQL ties.

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Unstructured database provider MarkLogic has a new CEO with big-business experience and plans to take the fast-growing company public. CEO Ken Bado comes to MarkLogic from computer-aided design leader Autodesk, where he served as EVP of sales and services and helped drive revenue up to $2.3 billion during his time there. MarkLogic is nowhere near those levels yet, but it does have a healthy business that belies its relative youth and NoSQL ties.

Although it’s technically a NoSQL database, MarkLogic has never really embraced that label, and it hasn’t had to. Since launching in 2005, MarkLogic has grown to 250 employees and has about 240 customers, including several prominent ones in the government and media industries. According to VP of Engineering Ron Avnur, MarkLogic Server, the company’s flagship product, is ideal for storing and querying everything from intelligence data to tweets to actual documents, and can scale to more than a petabyte.

Bado says the goal going forward is to add about 150 employees and keep revenue growth around its 45-percent-per-year level before ultimately filing for an IPO when it reaches a certain, but undisclosed, revenue mark. Before that happens, Bado said, MarkLogic will have to “move from the children’s table to the adult table,” a process that will require expanding its geographic presence and attracting more developers to drive bottom-up adoption of MarkLogic Server in even more businesses. He said he’s surprised MarkLogic is still relatively unknown despite its stellar reputation and customer base, and that it beats out Oracle in some situations.

To meet its growth goals, Bado said the company will step up its aggressiveness in touting MarkLogic Server for “big data” applications, a term that has caught fire lately, and that pretty accurately describes what MarkLogic does. Avnur says it will do more than just talk about big data, though, and actually is working to further improve its story by creating a Hadoop connector that lets customers run MapReduce jobs on unstructured data stored in MarkLogic Server.

In coming on board, Bado says he wants to strike while the iron is hot in terms of all the hype around big data and MarkLogic’s natural fit into that discussion. Some things, like a hiring boom and new features, will happen quickly, he said, while others, like the IPO, will happen in due time.

Frankly, though, a lot more could end up happening in a hurry for MarkLogic, especially if its big data message catches on. There are still a few potential large-vendor suitors that might be looking to round out their strategies with an unstructured database, and MarkLogic seems to provide a safer and more robust option than buying any traditional NoSQL vendor. If anyone does approach, MarkLogic’s fate might rely on well Bado is able to deliver on his goals and how strongly its investors believe in the company’s ability to compete against large database vendors like Oracle, IBM and HP in the long run.

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