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Cloud storage startup LucidLink today announced it has raised $12 million in a series A funding round led by Headline, with participation from Baseline Ventures, Bright Cap Ventures, and Adobe. LucidLink says the capital will be used to support its growth and customer experience.

With the shift to remote work, enterprises are restructuring how they do business, and the cloud is playing a central role. In a CloudCheckr survey, 57% of companies reported that more than half of their infrastructure is in the cloud, while 64% said they expected to be fully in the public cloud within five years. And IDG reports that the average cloud budget is up from $1.62 million in 2016 to a whopping $2.2 million today.

San Francisco, California-based LucidLink, which was founded in 2016 by Peter Thompson and George Dochev, offers a platform that streams data directly from the cloud — eliminating the need to download or synchronize that data. LucidLink’s shared namespace acts like network-attached storage, despite the fact that it’s cloud-hosted, streaming data directly to and from an underlying object store without gateways.

“After spending 15 years at a storage software company, I decided to take a break and went back to the graduate school of business at Stanford. I wanted to get back to an early-stage company and didn’t put any parameters around what type of business in which industry,” Thompson told VentureBeat in an interview via email. “Out of the blue, I received a call from one of my colleagues and the smartest engineer I’d ever met. He told me that he left the company at about the same time as me and had been working on an idea ever since … He showed me a working demo of the product we are selling today, and it blew my mind. It seemed like magic.”

Streaming storage

Streaming object storage isn’t a novel idea. For example, Amazon offers AWS (Amazon Web Services) Streaming Data Solution for Amazon Kinesis, which automatically configures AWS services to capture, store, process, and deliver streaming data. But LucidLink claims its performance is industry-leading, thanks to “data prefetching” based on “proprietary, adaptive” algorithms, parallel streams, caching, and compression. Frequently accessed data is cached locally when accessing volumes.

“The magic that LucidLink provides is that your data is consolidated in the cloud but appears and can be accessed as if it is local without syncing entire files or datasets. Instead, portions of files are streamed on-demand as required,” Thompson explained. “We are a general-purpose file system and can be used with most applications and use cases.”

LucidLink offers a range of capabilities, including direct read and write access from the cloud, immutable snapshots, user access control, and global file locking. Its service works with most cloud and on-premises storage and operating systems, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

Growing use cases

Streaming object storage technology has a number of applications, including media and entertainment. With a service like LucidLink, a television studio can ingest high-resolution footage for access across its teams, for example, as well as performing video and post-production editing in the cloud and enabling remote access to large visual effects shot sequences.

That’s a reason Adobe saw potential in LucidLink, according to Thompson. The global cloud storage market is projected to grow from $50.1 billion in 2020 to $137.3 billion by 2025, according to Markets and Markets. And LucidLink saw “well over 10 times” growth in revenue, accounts, total unique users, and capacity stored since the pandemic hit.

“[W]hen teams are collaborating on projects with large files, sharing data becomes that much harder. So we look for distributed teams … collaborating on large files and sets of data, such as creative content creation and video production. We have also seen significant interest and traction from the architecture, engineering, and construction space as their challenges are nearly identical,” Thompson said. “What is interesting is that although [our product] is often deployed to address and ‘fix’ a particular pain within a given workflow, we usually see other groups and use cases soon adopt it as well. We have even had customers completely abandon their ‘high-end’ NAS appliances in favor of our tech.”

LucidLink, which employs just under 30 people, has raised a total of $20 million to date. The company closed a $6 million seed round in June 2018.

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