Pioneers get arrows in their backs – I have experienced it firsthand from an active investor's viewpoint and written about it in the past. Being early in a market is great but being too early can be deadly. Just like the settlers in the westward migration, entrepreneurs who are too early will get arrows in their back. It doesn't matter if you have a rock star CEO (Bill Coleman who founded BEA) and $100mm of funding from some great investors. If you are too early and have to spend lots of money educating a market and get engaged in long protracted sales cycles and pilots, you are not going to be able to spend your way to success.
That is what it seems like is happening to Cassat Software. Forbes has an article about Cassat nearing the end. On the surface it seems like the company was built for the right place at the right time helping enterprises save tons of money and run their internal data center like a cloud. However the first funding went in 6 years ago and has totaled around $100mm since then. Here is a quote from their founder and CEO:
For many years, Coleman acted as something of a prophet for cheap computing via the cloud, but he also thought it would mean a sharp drop in pricing with which the big companies would not be able to compete.
"The big guys copied my story," says Coleman. Cassatt, he adds, was upended by a slowing economy and by customers skittish about closing big orders or changing existing ways.