Tidemark emerges from stealth mode, eyes business intelligence for real people

Tidemark comes out of stealth mode and plans to bring business intelligence to the mobile masses. We caught up with Tidemark CEO Christian Gheorghe for a walkthrough.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Tidemark, a company that has operated in stealth mode for the last 18 months, has emerged with $11 million in funding and a grand plan to usher in a new generation of business intelligence applications that put mobile first.

Business intelligence consolidated in recent years as IBM bought Cognos, SAP acquired BusinessObjects and Oracle gobbled up Hyperion. Christian Gheorghe, founder and CEO at Tidemark, is a business intelligence (BI) veteran at SAP. After spending a few years integrating BI apps and products at SAP, Gheorghe concluded that the enterprise stack needed to be reinvented. He landed at Greylock Partners and cooked up Tidemark, which was known as Proferi.

"We put mobile first and the Web experience second," said Gheorghe, in an interview at our New York offices. "We focused on ease of use and BI for the rest of us. Tidemark isn't for IT and the CIO."

Tidemark's message could find a receptive audience. BI historically has largely been for data wonks and folks that dream about spreadsheets. Drilldowns make BI even more complicated. As a result, a company of 10,000 may wind up with 500 workers that actually had access to BI tools. Of that 500, only a handful of data wonks really knew what they were doing.

See also: Tidemark takes Enterprise Performance Management to the cloud

Gheorghe's goal was simple. Make BI more actionable, bring it to the iPad toting masses and boil down company trends, fixes and other structured and unstructured data to one graphic. There's no need to set chart preferences and other nonsense. Tidemark relies on Hadoop and a cloud infrastructure to put the pieces together.

A demo of Tidemark, which currently has three customers who helped develop its enterprise performance management platform, is impressive. The HTML5 interface is slick and held my attention since data was organized into "performance panels." Typically, I see a spreadsheet and run away screaming.

Acosta Treasurer Sean Anthony is one of those customers and has been a Tidemark development partner for the last year or so. Acosta, which manages marketing programs for consumer product goods companies, has Oracle as its financial reporting tools with SAP's business planning and consolidation program. "SAP bought OutlookSoft and rolled it into BusinessObjects in a unified tool," explained Anthony. "We're still on an older version and haven't had an upgrade in two years. I know I have something."

Anthony said that moving to a software as a service model and using a front-end that doesn't require Excel was appealing to him. Tidemark's mobile capabilities were also notable, but Acosta's salespeople aren't toting iPads at the moment. "Our current environment is spreadsheet based and sales guys are the leaders and have financial ownership," said Anthony. "I've been struggling to give them something a little bit better."

Tidemark's goal is similar to many other software as a service vendors ranging from Salesforce.com to Workday to NetSuite. Oracle and SAP are starting upgrade cycles and if you're going to look at implementing new applications such as Oracle's Fusion or an SAP upgrade you might as well examine other options too.

In other words, SaaS vendors have an opportunity to advance sales as enterprises consider their upgrade options. I'd argue Tidemark has a chance to enter the upgrade breach too. Gheorghe's interface is designed for business people and that can resonate in the age of consumerization. "You never have to write a query for a chart type," said Gheorghe. "The system figures out how to make the user experience simple and expose the things that really matter."

Tidemark's launch includes three main applications: Metrics Management and Management Reporting; Enterprise Planning; and Profitability Modeling.

Among the key points:

  • Tidemark's strategy is first to be an overlay and then eventually replace legacy applications. Gheorghe said Tidemark, which will do its own implementations at first, can get customers up and running in 30 days.
  • The service is priced at $200 a month per user. I asked Gheorghe if that price point was too high to roll out to 5,000 workers and he acknowledged that Tidemark may look at tiered pricing in the future. There are volume discounts and the contracts with Tidemark are three year terms.
  • Tidemark's interface allows for collaboration, simulation, risk assessments and trend analysis. The number crunching is done in-memory.
  • Gheorghe built the infrastructure on VMware and Verizon's Terremark data centers. In other words, Tidemark went for enterprise-grade and U.S. government certified security right away. Tidemark is also build on SnapLogic, which integrates big data, and Cloudera, which offers an enterprise version of Hadoop.
  • Funding isn't an issue and Tidemark has some heavy enterprise hitters as investors. Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Dave Duffield, co-founder and co-CEO of Workday and founder of PeopleSoft, were involved with Tidemark's Series b round. The company's board includes Aneel Bhusri, co-CEO at Workday, Ben Horowitz, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and Phil Wilmington, former co-president at Peoplesoft and CEO of OutlookSoft.
  • Midmarket companies appear to be the initial target for Tidemark.

Acosta's Anthony said that his plan is to load Oracle financials and the data in his SAP budgeting system into Tidemark for next year's budget season. Tidemark is being used as an overlay right now because Acosta's fiscal year ends Oct. 31.

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