End of a LucidEra?

June 22, 2009
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According to the company web site, on-demand BI vendor LucidEra was formed:

“to shake up the stagnant business intelligence industry and traditional approaches to corporate information access and analysis by delivering business visibility as an on-demand service.”

And LucidEra has indeed been innovative, developing deep expertise in the area of Sales Pipeline analytics with a 48h Pipeline Healthcheck service that in the words of Phil Wainwright, aims to “deliver return *before* investment”:

“In just 48 hours the LucidEra Pipeline Healthcheck will identify opportunities and risks in your sales forecast. We’ll analyze the health of your pipeline, sales people, and overall sales process to help identify ways to increase revenues, decrease pipeline risk, and get more predictable sales results. Plus, we’ll provide an interactive analysis so you can dig deeper into the results. We’ll quantify the results of our findings and show you the impact that on-going business intelligence as a service can have on your sales revenues.”

But unfortunately it looks like the storm clouds may be gathering for the company. This weekend, LucidEra’s Founder and CMO Ken Rudin informed friends and

lucidera-banner

According to the company web site, on-demand BI vendor LucidEra was formed:

“to shake up the stagnant business intelligence industry and traditional approaches to corporate information access and analysis by delivering business visibility as an on-demand service.”

And LucidEra has indeed been innovative, developing deep expertise in the area of Sales Pipeline analytics with a 48h Pipeline Healthcheck service that in the words of Phil Wainwright, aims to “deliver return *before* investment”:

“In just 48 hours the LucidEra Pipeline Healthcheck will identify opportunities and risks in your sales forecast. We’ll analyze the health of your pipeline, sales people, and overall sales process to help identify ways to increase revenues, decrease pipeline risk, and get more predictable sales results. Plus, we’ll provide an interactive analysis so you can dig deeper into the results. We’ll quantify the results of our findings and show you the impact that on-going business intelligence as a service can have on your sales revenues.”

But unfortunately it looks like the storm clouds may be gathering for the company. This weekend, LucidEra’s Founder and CMO Ken Rudin informed friends and colleagues that:

“my email address is changing and I am no longer using the email address krudin@lucidera.com

And now competitor GoodData has put out a press release claiming that LucidEra is “offering to sell its intellectual property after almost four years of operations” and announcing a “program to offer existing LucidEra customers free access to its innovative on-demand analytics service” with six months of free access to applications.

There has been no confirmation (or denial) from LucidEra so far [update: see below]. If indeed it is the end of an era, there will inevitably be a post-mortem discussion of what factors led to the company’s problems, and what it says about the on-demand BI market in general – particularly since various surveys and analyst postings at the start of this year predicted a rosy future for business intelligence software as a service in 2009.

The current rumor is that the company’s problems are primarily a result of bad timing, with the company needing another round of financing in a tough market, despite good products and pipeline.

My position has always been that on-demand business intelligence is an essential part of the market, but that some of the claimed benefits have been over-hyped.

In particular, I don’t think the debate should be about about choosing between on-demand and on-premise: customers should be able to seamlessly and easily move between one and the other according to their needs, using the same technology platform. This has been the position with SAP BusinessObjects’ business intelligence on-demand offering (www.ondemand.com), that use the standard BusinessObjects platform, in the cloud, on a multi-tenancy platform.

In the meantime, let me point out that Darren Cunningham, LucidEra’s excellent VP of Marketing writes an interesting, entertaining, and valuable “Keep it Simple” blog, and Darren just posted the list of all-time most popular posts:

  1. 9 Holes of Sales Analytics Best Practices
  2. Sales Analytics for the Board of Directors
  3. What is Your Data Actually Telling You?
  4. SaaS BI – Analytic Aspirin in a Difficult Economy?
  5. What’s in Store for Business Intelligence in 2008
  6. Guest Blogger Alert – The LucidEra Opportunity
  7. We Couldn’t Get the Answers
  8. Everything is a Platform
  9. What’s in Store for Business Intelligence in 2009
  10. Transforming Marketing’s Traditional 4 P’s into SaaS’s 5 A’s
  11. Take the SaaS BI Survey
  12. Sales 2.0 Data Points and Anecdotes
  13. Using Analytics to Avoid Wasting Time
  14. The Call for Basic Numeracy
  15. What is an Analytic Application?
  16. What is Cloud Computing?
  17. IDC Predictions for 2009
  18. Ashe on SaaS
  19. A Visionary Who Thinks Clouds will Cloud His Vision
  20. The Power of Pie Charts

I wish all the best of luck to Ken, Darren, other employees and customers of LucidEra…

Update: the rumor is now confirmed:

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business intelligence (BI) provider LucidEra will cease operations by the end of this month, a company executive has confirmed.

The vendor sent an email to customers on Thursday with the news and pledged to help customers wind down their relationship with the company and its SaaS-based BI products by the end of June, said Darren Cunningham, vice president of marketing at LucidEra, in a phone interview.

LucidEra’s decision to shutdown was brought about by a lack of funding, not a lack of interest in its products or in SaaS BI on the whole, Cunningham said. He would not go into details regarding LucidEra’s financial problems other than to say, “It was a matter of funding or being acquired. And neither of those things happened.”

LucidEra’s prepackaged BI reports focus primarily on Salesforce.com-based data. The company’s last round of funding came nearly two years ago in August 2007, when it raised $15.6 million in Series B funding, according to LucidEra’s website.

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