Attention Apple Retro-Heads: Claris is Back!

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In 1987, Apple moved its software products, such as MacPaint and the office suite AppleWorks, into a new subsidiary called Claris. But by 1998, most of Claris’ products had either moved back to Apple or been discontinued. So the company reformed as FileMaker, named for its flagship product, a database management system Claris acquired in 1988.

Now the Claris name is back. FileMaker, still a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple, said Tuesday that it has changed its name to Claris International as it diversifies its portfolio of products and services beyond its flagship FileMaker Pro.

To that end, Claris said it has acquired the Italian startup Stamplay, which lets people stitch together web services like Dropbox and Slack without writing code. For example, you could use Stamplay to automatically notify salespeople in Slack when a new lead is added to Salesforce, while simultaneously adding that lead’s email address to a mailing list.

Stamplay CEO Giuliano Iacobelli has moved from Rome to Silicon Valley to lead development of the company’s service, which will now be known as Claris Connect. Claris’ database product will continue under the name Claris FileMaker Pro.

“Claris was one of a thousand possibilities for a new name, but we kept coming back to it,” says Brad Freitag, who was promoted to CEO in March. “We wanted to be honest about our history, and our legacy.”

FileMaker Pro and Connect both enable less technical users to do basic programming tasks without writing code. Much like Microsoft Access and newer tools like Airtable, FileMaker Pro provides a graphical user interface for building database applications.

“Most companies have dozens or hundreds of processes that could be automated, but there’s a scarcity of developer talent,” Freitag says. The idea is that, with tools like FileMaker Pro and Connect, companies will be able to handle these programming projects without the need for more developers.

“If you look at what our vision has always been, it’s making powerful technologies accessible to everyone,” he says.

Although FileMaker is easy to overlook among its parent company’s inventory of sexy consumer gadgets like the iPhone and iWatch, the database product still has a loyal following. Freitag says Claris has 50,000 customers. That’s far fewer than Oracle’s 430,000 customers, but Claris focuses on a niche: building web apps. Claris plans to market Connect to FileMaker customers, but the service will still be sold separately from FileMaker Pro, meaning current Stamplay users won’t have to buy a FileMaker Pro license to use Claris Connect.

Freitag hopes to add more tools to the Claris stable in the coming months, including products focused on technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and the Internet of Things.


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