While the recession never hit storage as hard as it hit other areas of the economy, storage firms seem to be attracting substantial funds from venture investors according to an industry report and recent press announcements.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree survey data for the final quarter of last year, released in February, cites a total of more than $162 million invested in storage-related companies. This was part of a larger trend in which venture capitalists invested $7.1 billion in US entrepreneurial enterprises in the fourth quarter of 2001, reversing a downward trend that began in the third quarter of 2000, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers/Venture Economics/National Venture Capital Association MoneyTree Survey Among the most substantial winners of this bonanza were Zambeel, Inc., which pulled in $52.6 million, and Maranti Networks, which garnered $25 million.
Founded in September 1999, Zambeel is building an enterprise-class network-attached storage system to address high-growth data environments, where up to hundreds of terabytes of data need to be stored, managed, and accessed through high-speed networks. Headquartered in Fremont, CA, Zambeel was named one of Red Herring Magazine's "Top Ten to Watch" in May 2001. Zambeel has raised more than $65 million in venture financing including the most recent round.
Meanwhile, Maranti Networks, Inc., located in San Jose, Calif., is pioneering a new class of storage networking infrastructure
Since the release of the survey, Sanera Systems, Inc., a start-up building a data center-class switch for enterprise storage area networks (SANs), announced that it had secured $10 million in equity financing from Goldman Sachs.
For its part, El Segundo, Califfornia-based Imperial Technology, a designer and manufacturer of solid-state storage systems, said it had just closed a second funding round bringing total funding received in the last 18 months to over $11M.
Commenting on the MoneyTree survey, Tracey Lefteroff, global managing partner of the venture capital practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers said, "The free-fall is over and we've landed safely on higher ground."
"The uptick in dollars and deals in the fourth quarter occurred despite economic disruption and uncertainty," she said And, she pointed out, calendar year 2001 investments were nearly double 1998, which was the last "pre-bubble year."
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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.
This was first published in April 2002