Nick's Blog

Personal opinions. Aggressively stated.

InfoChimps Acquisition Brings Out Their Tales

chimpmark-flippedOur startup, StreetCred Software, was introduced to InfoChimps by a friend, and we are eternally grateful for the introduction.

At StreetCred, we say we use big data techniques on small data – we don’t deal with any individual dataset larger than 100GB – and InfoChimps helps us do this in a couple of very cool ways.

InfoChimps is an open platform that allows companies large and small to harness the power of a big data platform without investing in, you know, a big data platform the size of Montana.

In its own words,

“InfoChimps provides real-time data processing and analytics, batch analytics, and ad hoc analytics – all for actionable insights, and all powered by open-standards.”

We love that commitment to open standards, something we think the world needs more of.

In Public Safety perhaps most of all, proprietary data formats and evil license agreements have traditionally meant that vendor A won’t let any other vendor or even the customer agency leverage its own data – the data it and not the vendor produced – without payment and complexity.

This snuffs out innovation, destroys morale, creates political and financial enmities and ultimately is the reason why law enforcement technology is to this day Clinton-era front-ends to Reagan-era backends.

InfoChimps is one of the companies working to change this by demonstrating how open data formats can lead to disruption. We believe we are another.

Here’s why I’m writing this: the openness apparently extends to other areas as well. Recently InfoChimps was acquired by, of all companies, CSC.

Like all startups, things go terribly wrong while they are going very right, and no matter what day it is there is some problem, some challenge, some thing that has gone off the rails. But we never talk about them, because why would we want to?

I love the announcement from InfoChimps co-founder and CTO Flip Kromer. At a time when most firms are crowing about how successful they have been, Kromer takes time to honestly discuss some of the realities of running a startup to acquisition:

The actual history of our company is one of failure after failure, costly mistakes, and multiple near-death experiences. The only reason we’ve “succeeded” is through a preposterous series of lucky breaks and kind acts. Trying to list all the people behind that hard work and those lucky breaks would be foolish. There are too many, and I’ll just offend some by omission. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them; so thank you.

Now for the real story; the story you probably haven’t heard. The story to show how large the number of people making sizable investments of time, energy, money, and kindness is required to make successes out of failures and how a small favor can change the world. It’s a thank you note to those who have helped us and a love letter to other startups figuring it out as they go. It’s a reminder that this is just another chapter of Infochimps’ book, and we’re nowhere near the resolution.

We are thrilled for InfoChimps and excited for them. We really hope that they don’t change things so much that we lose access to some ofthe very cool free and low-priced things they are doing for us and other startups that make us larger than our apparent size.

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