Dell launches $60M fund to support storage startups

Storage hasn’t typically been an attractive space for entrepreneurs, but Michael Dell is willing to make a $60 million bet that it will fuel some of the most important strides in IT in the next decade.

“We see this as an area of continuing innovation,” Dell told attendees at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference in Aspen.

Today, Dell announced plans to launch a fund for early stage storage companies as part of its continued effort to become far more than a personal computer manufacturer. Dell‘s investing arm, Dell Ventures, will be on the lookout for companies that can manage the explosion of data driven by smartphone and tablet usage.

The fund will seed $3-$5 million in five to 10 promising startups that meet the criteria, and Dell will maintain an equity position. This fund will specifically be used to invest in storage companies, although Dell Ventures will continue to fund startups in its other key areas: cloud computing, virtualization, networking, Big Data, analytics, business intelligence, and software.

Of late, the computer maker has attempted to corner the networking and data storage market with a concerted M&A frenzy. The company has acquired over 25 young storage companies in the past four years, such as EqualLogic and Compellent.

Still, storage remains the smallest part of the business. Dell Ventures has made some of its most profitable seed investments in other areas and currently holds a stake in VMware.

Read the full transcript of Fortune’s interview with Michael Dell here.