Numerify’s Stealth Mode Status Poses A Paradox For The Cloud Analytics Company

Last week, Numerify, announced it had raised $8 million in an oversubscribed Series A round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. They also received funding from a number of prominent angel investors, including Frank Slootman, CEO of ServiceNow, Amit Singh, president of Google Enterprise and Deep Nishar, SVP of Products and User Experience at Linkedin.

The company, which is developing an analytics platform for SaaS applications, actually raised its funding late last year. It has been in stealth until now and is supposed to remain in stealth until it launches its service sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

The team is doing press interviews and has a web site with enough information to give a snapshot of what they are doing. Its status as a company in stealth mode is really nothing but marketing. What they really want is some buzz about the company to position themselves for a later launch.

Numerify’s positioning points to the paradox and the oxymoronic nature of startups that announce they are in stealth mode. Stealth companies want buzz but their secrecy limits the amount of feedback they can get about their service. It’s also a bit absurd. If the company is such a secret then why announce who you are and what you seek to do?

The real issue for Numerify is about timing. Late last year, Co-founder and CEO Gaurav Rewari approached Lightspeed Venture Capital Partner Bipul Sinha. Rewari, who was previously vice president of product management and strategy at Oracle, is a well-known thought leader in the world of business intelligence. His status is reflected in the calibre of investors he has attracted to his venture.

Sinha said in an interview on Friday that Lightspeed put up the funding in large part because of the idea and Rewari’s background. The others soon followed with their own funding. Over the course of this year, the company began talking to customers who in the course of discussions, asked about a web site. Numerify had no presence online, really nothing about the company at all that they could show customers. In August, they started building a site and preparing for an announcement about the funding they had raised in late 2012.

The announcement would also serve another purpose. It would allows the company to position themselves in the business intelligence market before the competition did it for them.

Sinha said most SaaS applications have no easy way to provide robust analytics. Customers often have to piece applications together to get meaningful results. Sinha said the opportunity for Numerify comes with the need for a simple analytics platform that people can use on to of SaaS environments. He compares it to the 1990s when data warehouse offerings became so popular. Now the need is for analytics platforms that sit on top of SaaS environments.

The market is brimming with competitors trying to meet this need for better analytics.  GoodData, with $75 million in funding, offers a cloud-based data analytics service that competes with solutions from companies such as IBM, SAP and Oracle. It markets to the vast ecosystem of SaaS providers that integrate the technology into their own platforms. Those providers can then offer their own customers access to dashboards, advanced reporting and other features.

In an interview last week, Rewari said the company will initially target the uses cases such as providing more intelligence for sales and marketing professionals. The sales and marketing market is a also a sweet spot for GoodData. Founder Roman Stanek said to me last spring that budgets are shifting to digital marketing. Marketers, though, still do not have enough analytics. GoodData provides insights into that data those marketers have in such great volume from sources such as Twitter.

Knowing the background of Rewari and his co-founder Srikant Gokulnatha, it’s apparent these people have the experience to make their business a potential giant success. Their investors are top-notch. But it is problematic to position the company as it has. More so than stepping boldly out into the market. Numerify is instead trying to raise awareness while also remaining a stealth company. That’s hard to do and also not very effective, especially when enough is known about the company to make its stealth status questionable at best.