Business

Primary Data raises $50M: It’s all about the data, not the storage [update]

Cofounder David Flynn.

Above: Cofounder David Flynn.

Image Credit: Supplied

Updated 3:08 p.m. Pacific time on Friday.

Flash storage has gotten lots of attention in the past few years, as it serves data to users more quickly than hard disk drives. But flash typically still costs more than disk, and issues with reliability and management complexity could be factors in the price difference.

A stealthy startup called Primary Data is aiming to deliver storage that isn’t hampered by those issues, and a healthy $50 million round of venture capital should help a bit. Investors with enterprise credibility participated in the round, including Accel Partners, Battery Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Wing Venture Partners, according to a Barron’s article Tuesday. The Cedar Fund, an existing investor, also joined the round.

While the technology aspect of Primary Data could have proven intriguing to investors, the deal likely could have something to do with startup’s roots.

David Flynn, a founder of flash-storage company Fusion-io and who recently stepped down from the chief executive position, is also a founder of Primary Data. Flynn saw Fusion-io pick up business from deep-pocketed companies such as Apple and Facebook. Fusion-io went public and has since stumbled while trying to bring in more business from enterprises and smaller businesses as well as more webscale properties.

Rick White, another Fusion-io co-founder, is Primary Data’s chief marketing officer.

Perhaps investors are confident that White and Flynn have not only developed a another new batch of innovative technology but also better strategies for gaining marketshare from lots of different companies of different sizes. That way, Primary Data would have a shot at avoiding the challenges Fusion-io is now facing. (A few Fusion-io competitors have gotten acquired in recent months, including Virident and Whitail.)


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It helps that Primary Data has already acquired other startups, including Tonian Systems — which explains why the Primary Data website is located at tonian.com — and Tachyon Storage, according to Barron’s.

One exciting part of the deal is that if Primary Data can actually produce a storage solution that’s both enterprise-grade and a breeze to manage, more companies could buy in, potentially resulting in more super-quick web applications that provide or rely on big-data analytics, in-memory databases and hip graph databases.

Flynn himself sees data as the important thing with his new company. “The data should be the focal point, not the storage that holds it,” he told Barron’s. “We need to manage data, not storage systems.”

Investors seem to be convinced of this. The question is whether companies small and large will agree.

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