Neil Carson of Yellowbrick

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Neil Carson, the co-founder and CEO of Yellowbrick, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Yellowbrick – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

Data warehouse technology basically hadn’t evolved in three decades. Imagine that. An enterprise technology in this day and age stuck in the 1990’s. It’s not just on-prem data warehouse technology that was out of date – even newer public cloud data warehouse vendors use old code or commodity hardware on the backend. It seemed so clear to me when I was CTO at that you could get massive performance improvement from your analytics infrastructure if you could leverage SSD and networking advancements, realizing that you’d have to rewrite software and optimizers too, to take advantage of the hardware improvements. So I pulled together a few colleagues and we developed the concept of Yellowbrick – a purpose-built analytics platform designed to be screaming fast. I think we were lucky that we didn’t have an investment in legacy data warehouse software to bog us down.

What do you mean, bog you down?

The legacy analytics database vendors have to protect their investments. They aren’t likely to embrace a paradigm shift. We didn’t have legacy revenue streams to protect

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Fundraising Series A was very hard indeed. Hadoop was taking over analytics, NoSQL was the future of databases, and software innovation was the only thing that mattered, at least in the eyes of most venture investors.

What does the future hold for Yellowbrick?

It’s an exciting time for us. We’re in our growth phase and have a massive amount of interest in our technology. Some of the world’s biggest companies now run mission-critical systems on Yellowbrick. We’re the only real option for a hybrid cloud data warehouse, and that gives us a huge advantage in the market and it gives our enterprise customers big advantages in their own markets. We continue to push the performance and scalability edges of our platform, and we’ve got more partnerships and integrations on the way, so it’s a bloody exciting time for us. Succeeding in today’s market isn’t for the faint of heart.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Palo Alto?

The startup scene is fascinating but can also be a monoculture. I get inspiration from diversity.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Work really, really hard and don’t give up. Starting a company is a massive sacrifice in terms of stress, family, and financial well-being. You’ve got to really, really love what you’re doing for it to make sense.


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series