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Can Carl Icahn save Cloudera? Developer interest in the platform is sinking.

3 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Features

Big-data company Cloudera ($NYSE:CLDR) has seen a bit of a rise and fall — at least on Wall Street — as of late. That's because of two things: First, it joined forces with one-time competitor Hortonworks in a deal that was worth $5 billion, signaling a merger of giants in a space with a lot of upside. That happened back in October. After that, the stock — and investors — settled back down to earth.

Second, just yesterday, Carl Icahn took an ownership stake in Cloudera, stating in a regulatory filing that the stock is undervalued as reported by CNBC's Jordan Novet.

Undervalued or not (the stock, as of today, is trading at 6.76 — in October at the time of the Hortonworks merger, it was trading at 19.05), Cloudera and Hortonworks have a tough battle ahead of them if they're going to make headway in the Hadoop open-source big-data space.

That's because developer interest in the platforms, as measured by Stack Exchange questions, is pointed in the wrong direction. And if there is little interest by developers in using the platform, there's little hope for upside, Carl Icahn or not.

We looked at the percent of questions asked on Stack Exhange - a platform in which software developers ask (and answer) questions about the tools they use. It's a useful proxy to measure interest in platforms as it can be directly tied to activity.

For both Cloudera and Hortonworks, the percentage of Stack Exchange questions related to the two platforms is on the decline.

Both platform's Stack Exchange activity peaked right around the time of the merger, perhaps when developers were taking a second — and maybe last — look at the Hadoop platforms for their own purposes.

In terms of raw, cumulative Stack Exchange activity, the number of questions for both platforms has plateaud overall. Cloudera's vector is slightly more promising, and shows a slightly growing gap over that of Hortonworks.

The path forward for Cloudera and Icahn — outside of drumming up developer interest — will be in-housing talent as part of that process. The company exhibited extreme hiring activity beginning in early 2019, increasing job openings from 82 on January 1 to 314 by the end of May. That has since cooled down just a bit, but the company is still looking for 200 new employees.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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