One time high-flying startup Apprenda has ceased operations, one of its venture capital investors told analysts on a quarterly conference call.
Apprenda, based in Troy, NY, has not commented publicly on a possible shutdown. The only potential signs on its website is a blank page where its executive leadership was once listed, and the fact that its job listings have been yanked off the site. Neither Schuller nor other employees at Apprenda immediately returned a request for comment, nor did a representative for Safeguard Scientifics.
Apprenda was a cloud startup co-founded and helmed by a former Morgan Stanley IT developer, Sinclair Schuller, to help big companies move their most mission-critical, custom built applications to the cloud. Founded in 2007, Apprenda had raised $56 million at a valuation of about $90 million by 2015, according to Pitchbook , with investment from some heavy-hitter enterprise VCs like NEA Partners and Ignition Partners.
At first, it tried to offer its own cloud product, but few startups can successfully compete against cloud mammoths like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud.
In more recent years, Apprenda focused on a hot new technology called “containers” — particularly, a type of container tech known as Kubernetes, which was invented at Google. Containers are a way to help applications run more efficiently and reliably in the cloud. But being in this market meant it was not only competing with the cloud giants, but also with bigger, highly-funded startups like Docker and Mesosphere.
It also had some heavy hitter angels and advisers during its time, including Data Collective VC Matthew Ocko, and Simon Crosby, a well known software engineer in the open source world who sold his first startup to Citrix for $500 million.
But, ultimately, Apprenda didn’t have the technology to attract enough customers or to lure a bigger player into an acquisition, Sisko reportedly explained on that conference call.
“It’s pretty unusual for a company to gain the level of traction that Apprenda did, and then ultimately not successfully market itself for exit. One point, there were some very significant players who were more than sniffing around,” he said, though he didn’t name who the potential buyers were.
Shutting down “was the right decision” because Apprenda needed to “catch back up” with its technology and investors weren’t down with that.
“The collective view around the table was that it wasn’t appropriate to plow more capital into this opportunity,” Sisko said.
And so Apprenda shut down.