Cloud syncing service SugarSync has raised $15 million in its fourth round of funding, some well-deserved cash that will help it grow and define itself in a hugely competitive cloud storage market.

Much like its biggest rival, Dropbox, SugarSync helps individuals and small businesses manage and back up files across multiple platforms, including PCs, Macs, and iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices. But unlike headline hog Dropbox, SugarSync has been more of a word-of-mouth success, with millions of users telling their friends and family to join in.

San Mateo, Calif.-based SugarSync has been around since 2008 and has grown steadily as demand for consumer and business cloud storage solutions has skyrocketed. It now has to compete side-by-side with Apple, Microsoft, Dropbox, Box, and others for those consumers who want some kind of cloud backup.

It hasn’t always been as easy as it is now to get money for expansion, says SugarSync CEO Laura Yecies. “We had prominent venture capitalists telling us in 2009 that we were niche,” Yecies told VentureBeat. “They are not saying that anymore.”

One of the biggest standout features for SugarSync is its availability across a staggering number of platforms, including almost all smartphones. Next up on the company’s docket is an application for the Windows Phone 7 OS, which Yecies says will arrive within two months. “We invested early on in cross-platform technology, so adding new platforms to support has been easier than expected,” Yecies said.

SugarSync makes money be offering a freemium model that teases the ease of cloud storage and then charges as your storage needs grow. Anyone who signs up with the service can get 5GB for free (much more generous than Dropbox’s free 2GB) and then add in more storage. A 30GB account runs $4.99/month, a $60GB account runs $9.99/month, and so on. Signing up yearly rather than monthly brings the overall cost down.

The new funding round of $15 million was led by new investor Coral Group and saw participation from existing investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Sigma Partners, Hatteras Venture Partners, and Hercules. Yuval Almog, Founder and Senior Managing Director of Coral Group, has joined SugarSync’s board.

“We see a massive opportunity in the Cloud services market as the proliferation of mobile devices continues,” said Almog, in a statement. “SugarSync has the most robust and complete cloud solution for accessing, syncing, and sharing files across all devices — regardless of platform.”

SugarSync’s total funding including the new round has reached $50 million. The company plans to use the new funds primarily for hiring many new staffers and building new data centers. Yecies said the plan is to double SugarSync’s 55-person staff by the end of this year.


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