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Storage giant SanDisk today announced plans to buy niche flash storage brand Fusion-io, after Fusion-io enjoyed a meteoric rise and then experienced a sudden decline.

The deal will go through for $1.1 billion in cash, or $11.25 per share in Fusion-io stock, according to a statement.

Fusion-io’s stock was up more than 23 percent on the news. SanDisk stock was up 2.5 percent.

The acquisition follows a series of recent flash storage acquisitions. Western Digital bought Virident. Cisco bought Whiptail. Most recently, EMC bought stealthy DSSD.


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Fusion-io has an interesting story. It picked up street cred by signing up high-profile customers like Apple, Facebook, and Spotify, as the industry touted Fusion-io’s super-fast reads and writes of data.

Fusion-io went public in 2011. But the company depended on deals with customers that would buy lots of its flash cards, and whenever one big buyer would go away — perhaps to a flash storage vendor that could offer lower prices — revenue would get whopped, and investors would hear about it.

Last year it seemed the company was trying to get things straightened out and start increasing sales at a steady clip.

Co-founders David Flynn and Rick White left.

And the company bought hybrid storage gear vendor NexGen Storage. The deal suggested Fusion-io would start focusing more on small- and medium-sized businesses that could afford equipment packing flash and more traditional hard disk drives.

Diversification of the customer base could have helped, alongside reparations with vendors of servers containing Fusion-io flash cards, like Dell and Hewlett-Packard. But the stock has not rebounded as much as chief executive Shane Robison and others in management expected.

Analysts last year suspected that SanDisk or another flash foundry owner, like Intel or Micro, would buy Fusion-io. So the buyer in today’s deal isn’t a surprise.

The price for the deal isn’t too surprising, either. Fusion-io stock has fluctuated between $8 and $12 for about eight months.

Fusion-io shareholders are already questioning whether the deal is bringing in as much money as it could. Three law firms announced investigations into the matter.

Following today’s deal, flash storage vendor Violin Memory could be an acquisition target, too. That company ditched its chief executive, Don Basile — who was previously Fusion-io’s chief executive, incidentally — in December.

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