READER WARNING – DOMO is financially stressed. “If other equity or debt financing is not available by August 2018, management will then begin to implement plans to significantly reduce operating expenses,” Domo said in its IPO document. Please search for DOMO IPO stories to get he latest updates. If you are reviewing cloud BI vendors, beware of this one.
Preface: DOMO was contacted for a briefing but refused citing a fear of competition. The following information was collected from primary and secondary research of publicly available information. I have also added my own professional opinion, a few theories on what I believe this group may be doing and why they are unwilling to showcase their offering. DOMO does not provide demonstrations or information to business intelligence savvy prospects or screened prospects that are unwilling to sign their Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). It is suspicious and a bit unusual for a firm with large investment and heavy marketing spend. Although my tone may seem harsh at times, I have no ill-will towards DOMO.
UPDATE 6/23/2014: Thanks to a loyal reader, there is a partial demo from Dreamforce Video publicly available and indeed the user interface is gorgeous as suspected. I also think it is an interesting twist that a person from ShufflePoint reached out to me last year to pick my brain for free, with no NDA, about Excel PowerPivot and Tableau. Could they have been doing early compete research for DOMO? ShufflePoint addresses the exact same marketing audience, CRM and other connectors. On 6/24/2014 ShufflePoint confirmed that they were not doing compete research but rather have the same type of solution already developed in Excel and Power BI. ShufflePoint’s product architecture and overall philosophy are different in that they allow customers to use the web as a “virtual data warehouse” and pull only discreet pieces of data via APIs. Thanks guys at ShufflePoint for this clarification!
UPDATE 3/23/2016: Now DOMO says that they lied to customers, partners and investors. The funniest part – they are still misleading people. They are trying to reposition gorgeous dashboards with filters and limited embedded predictive analytics as unique business apps. They do not have anything unique. Check out any modern BI app vendor or Salesforce. I suspect DOMO is trying this tactic to get away from being compared to Tableau, Qlik and Power BI. The cloud data viz business is almost a commodity business right now. The most insane part of their announcement…is the lying bit. Who would trust critical business data in the cloud to a liar? Amazing.
UPDATE 3/25/2016: Apparently I am not the only one that is calling out DOMO.
What is DOMO?
I first came across DOMO in December 2013 when a large landscaping company’s CEO reached out for guidance. He had been reviewing YellowFin, GoodData, DOMO and Tableau. This person was not at all a business intelligence expert – he was a landscape architect. The conversations he was having with various cloud business intelligence vendors were overwhelming and confusing. All of the solutions looked alike to him but the prices varied widely. Since I had not seen any industry analyst reviews of DOMO and I did not know a single company using them, I advised this fellow to immediately eliminate DOMO from the mix of vendors to evaluate.
Fast-forward a few months and several peers asked me about DOMO. Again, I check out their web site and run a few searches. The DOMO web site is totally gorgeous, awesome streaming video and modern parallax design. However, there is no “meat” to it for a technical buyer to review. The content is shallow and generic.
A few more months pass by and I keep seeing DOMO advertisements on LinkedIN and in my web surfing activities. Then yet another peer and a prospect ask me about DOMO. So I look again…same nothingness. I decide to read a few of the LinkedIn comments and see a lot of people asking if the company was for real, is DOMO “vaporware” and so on. Now I am totally intrigued. This might be a marketing tactic but I don’t think they expect folks to dig as deep as I did to unveil the truth. Here is what I found out about this suspiciously secretive group that is home based in American Fork, Utah.
According to CrunchBase, DOMO is a private company that was founded on July 13, 2011 by CEO, Josh James. Note that James previously led the rise and sell off of marketing related company Omniture to Adobe in 2009 for $1.8 billion. After a year at Adobe, James left to start Shacho, Inc. In October 2010, Shacho purchased Corda Technologies which had grown to about $10 million in annual revenue. James then changed Shacho’s name to DOMO, which means thank you in Japanese.
DOMO is currently categorized as offering Web Development, SaaS, Business Intelligence and Enterprise Software. They claim to provide access to real-time data to help online marketers make better and more profitable decisions. This group has been through 7 rounds of funding raising $248.7M with valuation at $825M (serious cash flowing in means a great story is being sold by the marketing experts over there). They also have powerful groups behind their funding including Salesforce.com, Fidelity Investments, Morgan Stanley, T. Rowe Price and several top venture capitalist firms. TechCrunch articles and SEC Form D chronicle significant business intelligence funding round highlights.
DOMO claims to offer easy button, scalable Cloud BI that people can make sense of and profit from using. They state that their Cloud BI application is able to analyze real-time data and display it in a user-friendly format. According to the TechCrunch article James explains, “we’re bridging the gap between the marketing funnel and the sales funnel”. He knows his company is secretive and goes on to say “people can say what they want about me raising $250 million, but investors have seen everything and that says I am telling the truth about the product”. That is his story…here is mine!
Corda, Java, Eclipse IDE, Amazon RDS, Hadoop “Big Data”, Classic Data Warehousing with Custom Development in the Cloud
The Corda Technologies purchase is key – Corda and Corda’s CenterView are at the foundation of the user interface. Looking through the limited available screenshots of dashboards, the KPIs look exactly the same as they did in 2011 YouTube videos with prettier styling applied. Unlike DOMO, there was a lot of information available on Corda. Their Java Eclipse IDE development experience looks a lot like an Adobe Dreamweaver experience for business intelligence and dashboard application development. Corda did have a few nice features like KPIs, proactive alerting and subscriptions dating all the way back to 2011.
They also had a library of a few connections called Data Funnels including Salesforce and even SAP Business Objects Universes. Corda does have a gorgeous array of data visualizations – think marketing people building BI. It will look good.
UPDATE 6/23/2014: Thanks to a loyal reader, while they are boasting over 100 data source connections with CRMs, QuickBooks, NetSuite, Marketo, etc. it sounds like they are custom developing each one – not exactly a plug-and-play connection like most other competing solutions. Here is a look at the user interface. It does look lovely as expected though the infographic approach does NOT adhere to proven visual information/perception design best practices (Few, Tufte). I could personally build/copy most of this look and feel in a dashboard solution if I had to do it using other widely available tools on the market. It is creative – many BI developers lack artistic creativity. This is where the marketing groups and graphic designers shine. Most of it looks like CRM data, typical Salesforce Deal Dashboards but a bit prettier than the typical in-house builds that myself and others build using DBAmp and other Salesforce connectors.
What was striking to me was the amount of hard core Java development needed with Corda versus other modern business intelligence and dashboard tools that offer rapid, drag-and-drop development like Tableau, Excel Power BI or Spotfire today.
From looking at their job advertisements, DOMO appears to be using AWS Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Hadoop to store customer data in the cloud data warehouse models. They are seeking traditional data warehouse, data modeling, ETL, SQL and business intelligence skills. Even Excel is mentioned yet they bash Excel in their advertising – read the job description.
When I called DOMO up for my initial inquiry, they told me “you don’t need to worry about anything, just give us all of your data and we will do the rest”. They started talking to me like I knew nothing about data or business intelligence – they asked me ZERO qualifying questions before excitedly citing the usual sales script. I was kind enough to stop them immediately, be honest about who I was and why I was calling them. What I took away from that call was DOMO takes all of your business data that you will allow them to take, dumps it on Amazon RDS or Hadoop models and puts Corda on top. They custom develop the ETL packages and data warehouse models for a premium fee.
Let’s be clear on my next point …Nothing is stopping you from doing this exact same thing yourself if you really wanted to do so – and – you could probably do it for far less money. DOMO-like technologies are readily available to anyone right now. You need to ask yourself if you really want all of your business data being exported, hosted and fully managed by a third-party, off-site and in their shared Cloud-land? Do you really want to pay for custom development only to have DOMO turn around and resell your designs as their IP? I have to imagine the contract verbiage in those deals is extraordinarily special. I also wonder how you’d get your data back and who then owns the secret sauce “KPI or alert trigger formulas” if you ever want to break up with DOMO? Those are all critical topics to fully understand before you transfer data to a third-party in cloud BI world.
The Reality of DOMO
If my theory is right, even I could build a DOMO comparable offering with a different, possibly much nicer front-end tool, combining any business data with Salesforce. I have done it several times over the years due to horrendously weak, out-of-the-box Salesforce reporting that has been begging for improvement since at least 2005. Heck, Salesforce business intelligence projects are super common in my world. With easy Salesforce DBAmp, Easysoft, Progress or Simba ODBC Drivers, various CRM, web site analytics, QuickBooks, NetSuite, Sage and other data source connectors already out-of-the-box with Tableau, Alteryx, SSIS CozyRoc, RSSBus, and many other players including Excel and PowerQuery, it is already mainstream! Tableau and other groups offer Salesforce reporting templates – simple plug-n-play and off you go. What am I missing here? What is the big “sell” story investors are eating up – using infographics in dashboards?
Quite frankly from what I have seen and heard, just about any company or business intelligence consulting firm on the planet could fairly easily create a DOMO-like reporting solution, probably already do, and just have not put the marketing label or hype on it. That is why I think DOMO is being “top secret” with regards to demos and content. They want to get as many trusting people on-board as quickly possible before word gets out, other groups offer similar packaged solutions, and/or they have actually developed unique, high value IP that is much more difficult to copy.
Now DOMO does have undeniably, incredible marketing contacts from the Omniture world, deep marketing expertise on staff due to those connections, huge marketing budget from telling a “great story” to investors and they sure are making a lot of noise to woo naïve, small to medium size business buyers into sending them all their business data.
What is Unique and Valuable IP?
To give DOMO and investors a bit of credit, they must be getting some kind of special treatment or access to Salesforce.com than the rest of us do or this all would just not make sense. In the cloud world barriers to market entry are low and big-time scale out is easy. Something needs to be special about DOMO…but what?
I am going to make a wild guess here …. I suspect that they are also building reusable web templates. They do a lot of custom development and most likely are creating data model, report and KPI templates from customer projects. I have seen line-of-business cloud BI solution templates with groups like SnapLogic, Pivotstream, Datameer, Tableau, QlikView, FICO and many others. There is a current “marketplace-like” trend in big data and predictive analytics markets that uses the same business logic and model template approach – just populate it with your data. Easy, breezy, done!
Example from Tableau’s Salesforce Dashboard Templates that includes pre-built Sales Summary, Opportunity Report, Lead Management, Pipeline Management and a Personal Salesperson Dashboard for a Salesforce.com data source – just point, click and you have dashboards. To learn more about these, check out their blog article, video demo and download their templates.
Another example is new Power BI from Microsoft. They are also selling an automated template solution with Salesforce and other popular connectors. In fact the dashboard demos sure look a lot alike. UPDATE 12/18/2014: Microsoft just released a FREE DOMO-killer app. Check out their new dashboards, reports, automated Salesforce and SaaS reporting solutions if you are considering DOMO.
Another reason why I suspect a reusable template sell is from listening to the Killing it with Data YouTube presentation for InsideSales.com where James shares his expertise on selling online, getting conversions with fast demos and interesting stats that he learned from Omniture on tracking web behavior to sale. James is absolutely passionate and proud of his expert knowledge in this specific domain. He talked with a fervor that screamed this is what drives him on a daily basis – this is what he is selling with DOMO. The application of his experience to “bridge the gap” as he stated above. Listen to the video and let me know what you think. Reusable templates with secret formulas for biz success using Salesforce with your other business data is valuable. Secret formulas might be a potential differentiator in the DOMO business intelligence solution architecture that might not be easily copied. I don’t know.
BUT …many web development shops, marketers and business owners that track their own web site performance data with popular Google Analytics, Salesforce and so on already know this information. They might not be mixing it all up with their other business data like Quickbooks in “real-time” and applying predictive alerting yet but they sure could do it! The technology is readily available and easier than ever to use. Just read a few of my blogs… Things like this are NOT hard to do anymore with modern, big data capable, business intelligence solutions. Might DOMO be betting big on customer ignorance of alternative options?
The Good, Bad and Ugly on GlassDoor.com
No research would be complete without checking out the company GlassDoor.com comments. If you have never been to Glassdoor.com, check it out. GlassDoor.com Company profiles and entries are really revealing with regards to a company’s culture, vibe and inner workings. DOMO’s culture seems divided between the former Omniture and Corda teams. There are quite a few raves and also rants about tablet and food perks, Omniture favoritism, “we have done this before” attitudes and politics. Several posts state the solution is off track due to many customizations, sales is overselling (classic!) and that it is not ready for primetime. They do, or at least used to, flash the lights and play loud celebration music each time a new deal was closed. From reading through what DOMO staff has to say, you begin to get a clear picture of what is really cooking over there.
The Bottom Line
DOMO is an example of great marketing around custom cloud BI development using widely available Amazon RDS and Hadoop with Corda on the front-end. DOMO may have a few valuable nuggets of domain expertise from Omniture days. I am still trying to see what truly makes DOMO so special that you can’t simply build it yourself for far less money and keep your data in your own hands. If you know the answer or insight on the DOMO mystery, I’d sure like to hear it!
6/25/2014 Anonymous, West Coast USA: I really enjoyed reading your blog. I think anyone with a bit of working knowledge of BI and data can figure out that they don’t need Domo, but you did an excellent job articulating it.
6/26/2014 Marco Russo, SQLBI: When I looked at their website I’ve had the perception (confirmed by your analysis) that DOMO is trying to “industrialize” the consulting part of a BI solution that creates a tailored suite using sewing machines (existing BI tools). They are not the first trying to do that (reusing standard templates), but they are the firsts playing the game at such a scale. The interesting point to me is the following: why it is necessary to sell the entire technology stack and implementation (like they do) whereas the “added value” is the study and implementation of the data visualization?
If the same company is willing to spend 5-zeros checks for licenses and then consider only the lower rates (and don’t check the skills) of “reporting people”, then companies like DOMO have a large marketplace. But I’m really unable to understand what’s the strategy of a business that gets a multi-stars chef, build a great kitchen, buys the more expensive raw materials and then save bucks on waiters an maîtres. This is what many companies are doing, and why they are not able to obtain the nice results of the demo they have seen before buying the licenses of the latest, fancy “final solution”.
10/21/2014 Ken VanHatten: DOMO failed to deliver as promised. They sold a seamless way for managers to get real time reports. The DOMO QuickBooks “Connector” was not seamless. It did not operate as Domo stated it would. They blamed the issue on QuickBooks. DOMO takes months to troubleshoot and solve issues.
11/15/2014 Anonymous Source: DOMO quoted us pricing of over $3,000/per user per year. They are over 3x higher than everyone else we reviewed.
6/4/2015 Anonymous Source: DOMO charged us $1,000/per user per year for both Scratch Pad authors and viewers. We did a POC and found out that DOMO Workbench Jobs for seeing new data and updates to the data do not work. The DOMO ODBC connectors and SQL code were more complex than expected requiring us to go to IT for help. IT won’t support DOMO due to a lack of role based data security. Now we are stuck manually updating Excel files when we want to see new or updated data on the DOMO Scratch Pad. So far DOMO has been a frustrating waste of time and money.