Claris, an Apple Subsidiary

by Scott Love - Partner

Three weeks ago, newly appointed CEO Brad Freitag announced that FileMaker was re-branding to Claris International at its annual developers conference. In an impressive span of just 30 minutes, the team at Claris unveiled signage throughout the conference center.

Notable in Claris’ rollout was the absence of the tagline, “an Apple Subsidiary”. That addition featured prominently in recent years of FileMaker’s brand.

Ironically, despite the omission, Claris and Apple are more in alignment than ever before.

The history of Claris is an interesting one

Originally spun out in 1987 to provide software to the Apple market, Claris rebranded in 1998 to focus on FileMaker and spent 20 years serving the market for its primary eponymous product.

Currently, the FileMaker platform enjoys international recognition, has millions of customers, and partners with thousands of professional third parties like Codence. Its brand (representing, in broad short-hand, perception in the market) arguably suffered some misconceptions over the years: often compared to back-end database technologies, developers questioned its capabilities as a relational database or assumed, wrongly, that it was a Mac-only product.

Claris’ announcement resets the stage for its brand

With the acquisition of Claris Connect and the team’s focus on cloud-native technologies, FileMaker emerges from a single product to now one among two, and soon (I speculate) many. Claris is free to introduce new products that will arguably lift the complementary whole, including FileMaker.

Consider too the nature of this first acquisition: Claris Connect is a cloud-based service that facilitates integration between existing cloud or on-premise services. Not only is Claris focused on its own suite of technologies, but now with Claris Connect we developers can offer our clients access to hundreds of best-of-breed tools.

The FileMaker platform benefits from the new overarching Claris brand that extends connectivity across a broad array of technologies. These moves position Claris to emerge as a relevant, contemporary leader among interconnected services.

Transitioning from a hardware company to a service company

In the backdrop of these changes, note the evolution of its parent as well: Apple is transitioning from a hardware company, selling computers, music players, and smart phones, to a service company: its iCloud ecosystem and move into media is opening new markets and reoccurring revenue for the tech giant.

Claris is aligned well in relation: as Apple shifts to a consumer-cloud-services orientation, Claris is focusing on cloud-native business services. Both companies will be providing customers with subscription-based services delivered on the Web, and both are focused on building their service platforms.

Looking into the future

In the past, FileMaker appeared to be an oft neglected side note and, barely, if at all, registered on Apple’s shareholder communications. What once seemed an ill-fit between the subsidiary’s strategy and that of its parent, Claris is now poised to drive into a much larger and growing cloud market.

Such a clearly deliberate re-alignment opens the door for Claris to play a strategic role in Apple’s overarching growth.
While FileMaker was an Apple Subsidiary in name, Claris is very much one in spirit.

If you’d like to learn more, we’ve published a series of posts on our blog, and please feel free to reply directly to this email with questions or comments.

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