Cloudera acquires AI research firm Fast Forward Labs

Cloudera said today as part of its second-quarter earnings report that it is acquiring Fast Forward Labs, a startup that gives companies the latest information on how to apply machine learning and AI to their businesses, as well as consulting.

The company’s stock has weathered somewhat of a beating since it went public, though it was able to beat Wall Street’s expectations today. But the more interesting news is the acquisition of Fast Forward Labs, a company that specializes in consulting with larger enterprises about emerging trends in machine learning that can help their businesses grow. Cloudera specializes in operating on top of open-source technology, looking to deliver an enterprise-grade product for larger organizations.

“On the way, we built a profitable company with real impact on our clients’ products and businesses. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” CEO and co-founder Hilary Mason said in a post announcing the acquisition. “However, we’re just getting started. The enterprise is more excited about machine learning and applied artificial intelligence than ever, and in order to meet this growing opportunity, we are heading in a new direction.”

Collecting that kind of expertise is going to be critical as it looks to woo enterprises into paying for additional support and services on top of open-source software. Cloudera’s business can be a tricky one, much like Docker and MongoDB — which is built on top of open-source technology that anyone can use. Cloudera has to show companies that it can build a better product than they might be able to deploy themselves, or simply make it much easier to deploy by paying the company so it’s another thing those companies don’t have to worry about.

The company said it brought in revenue of $89.8 million and a loss of 17 cents per share, while Wall Street was looking for a loss of 25 cents per share on revenue of $85.5 million. Here’s the stock chart for the past few months since it went public:

Cloudera was one of a big batch of companies that went public in the early part of the year after Snap opened up the so-called IPO window. Since then, a significant portion of those companies have had some issues — with Blue Apron and Snap seeing massive declines in their shares. Cloudera is still an enterprise company, but after seeing a 20 percent spike on day one has fallen back to Earth.

Still, there appears to be an opportunity for businesses here, as Cloudera was able to deliver a positive earnings report and database software startup MongoDB has confidentially filed to go public.