After two decades of operating under the name FileMaker, the Apple-owned software company has decided to return to its original name: Claris.
Apple first created Claris in 1986 when it was under the leadership of John Sculley. Claris was meant to become an independent company focused on making software for the Mac, but three years later, Sculley changed course and bought back a minority ownership that had been sold off. Claris originally worked on programs like MacDraw, MacWrite, and MacPaint, but FileMaker became its leading product in the ’90s, selling 3 million copies a year across Mac and Windows.
In 1998, Apple gutted Claris and renamed it FileMaker, laying off around 300 employees and bringing most of its software back in-house. At the time, Apple was regularly seeing steep quarterly losses and had laid off thousands of employees of its own. Given Claris’ success, though, the change was unexpected. Wired called it “the most recent in an ongoing and bizarre series of moves for Apple and its software subsidiary.”
FileMaker has continued to develop its custom database software since then, and it’s been successful: the 300-person company has been profitable for two decades and says it has 50,000 business entities with more than 1 million users on its products. Its core product can be used to build apps that run on macOS, Windows, iOS, or in the cloud; some coding experience is required, but it’s supposed to offer companies or departments the ability to create custom software that’s a better fit than off-the-shelf products.
Now, the company wants to branch out beyond its one and only app. Today, it’s announcing the acquisition of Stamplay, an Italian startup that made software to automate business processes, with a focus on web tools that FileMaker has lacked. The acquisition was first reported in March (though Apple was seen as the buyer), with Italian media pegging the price at around 5 million euros (about $5.55 million USD). Stamplay will be rebranded Claris Connect, with Stamplay’s CEO remaining in charge of the app.
After 20 years under one leader, FileMaker got a new CEO in March. Its new CEO, Brad Freitag, tells The Verge that with people becoming “increasingly comfortable” with tech in the workplace, there’s a growing opportunity to provide software that helps that “digital transformation.” That means there are more products to come from Claris, rather than another two decades focused on the same app. “Our vision is to enhance the number of services we offer to the market,” Freitag said.
As for the name change, Freitag says the company hired a branding agency and looked at around a thousand possible names. Ultimately, the team just liked what it already had. “We’re proud of our legacy,” Freitag said. “We want to bring that along.”