By Michael Terner, Executive Vice President, who attended the Partner Conference along with Mike Wiley and Jim Scott.
Note: Here in Boston, we are privileged to have some of the greatest sports writing in the country on the pages of the Boston Globe. For the second time, this blog is being written in the style of, and in homage to both Dan Shaughnessy’s (@Dan_Shaughnessy) “Picked Up Pieces While…” columns, and Bob Ryan’s (@GlobeBobRyan) “Emptying Out the Desk Drawer of the Sports Mind…” columns.
Given CartoDB’s origins in Madrid, Spain it should not have been a surprise, but I wasn’t expecting the partner conference – which was held last Thursday and Friday at their new headquarters in Brooklyn, NY – to be such an international affair. Suffice to say that the partners showed up from around the world with a heavy contingent from Europe that almost matched the USA attendees.
The attendees also included representatives of some of the bigger names from technology and consulting such as IBM, Bloomberg and the Boston Consulting Group; accompanied by other new geo technology startups such as Fulcrum and Planet Labs. It was also clear that several other of the partners were driven to CartoDB in the aftermath of Google’s deprecation of Google Maps Engine (GME). AppGeo is a Google Maps partner and in addition to ourselves we saw several other successful Google partners such as Onix, Wabion (Austria), NT Concepts and Woolpert. Clearly, GME customers’ loss has been CartoDB’s gain.
CartoDB’s recent Series B funding of $23M was also in clear evidence. One of the new board members, Anthony Deighton of Qlik, was in attendance and their sparkling new and hip office space in Brooklyn played an appropriate backdrop for a hot startup’s partner event. CartoDB is also in the process of opening a new office in San Francisco and we heard from their first west coast person, Aaron Steele, Sr. VP of Business Development.
In addition, partners got to meet a wide variety of newly hired talent presumably fueled by the new investment. From my vantage, one of the strengths of CartoDB has always been the team and talent that has been assembled. From their founder and visionary, Javier de la Torre, to well known industry luminaries such as Paul Ramsey (the leader of the PostGIS open source project) to longer term employees such as Jaime de Mora (Global Partner Manager), Miguel Arias (COO), Javier Santana (CTO), and Andrew Hill (Chief Science Officer) you’re never left wondering how these people came to leadership positions.
Last, the partners were provided a strong peek ahead at both the vision CartoDB is pursuing and the roadmap for their software platform’s continued evolution. A couple of things stood out:
Vision: Javier described CartoDB as inhabiting a new, unique space he called a “location intelligence platform.” He differentiated this platform as wholly apart from “location based services” (LBS) such as Google and Mapbox that are more focused on providing the core location functions of basemap, geocoding and routing. He also identified the “location intelligence platform” as straddling a region between the smaller niche of “GIS” and the rapidly expanding and already large “analytics” space. Thus, CartoDB’s mission can be viewed as providing a gateway for GIS data and layers to be handled in their platform and for their platform to provide increasing geoanalytical capabilities beyond web mapping and visualization. This positioning made perfect sense, and to me it really emphasized their strengths while also highlighting that their platform will interoperate alongside the other technologies of LBS, GIS and the analytics/business intelligence (BI) found in software/platforms like Qlik and Tableau.
Roadmap: For sure, there’s a whole lot of progress planned for 2016. I can’t elaborate as the details were shared with partners under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), just continued good news with some important additions to their platform’s capabilities. From our vantage, the roadmap is right on target and the broader community can expect lots of interesting and welcome announcements from CartoDB throughout the year ahead.
Last, and highly related to the earlier observations on CartoDB’s large Series B funding round, was the fact that there was plenty of plain and focused talk about selling. Indeed, with these levels of investment geo startups are about much more than building cool stuff (which CartoDB does in abundance already). They need to be about proving they are doing valuable things that people are willing to pay for. Ultimately, their investors need a return on their investment and there needs to be ever increasing revenues. And after attending the partner conference it would appear that both CartoDB’s own sales team and the partner channel are cranking up and are now ready for that challenge.