#64 – Success & Failure in Storage Startup Land

#64 – Success & Failure in Storage Startup Land

Chris EvansGarbage Collection

This week’s conversation follows up on Chris’ recent visit to Flash Memory Summit in the US.  Chris and Martin discuss the storage startup landscape and the range of companies appearing at the event.

What makes a company successful?  Is IPO or acquisition the right route?  The discussion starts with a simple, yet tricky question – why does storage continue to be such a diverse market place, with so many solutions to problems?  We see a storage “pendulum” effect, with vendors moving between hardware and software.  At the moment, there seems to be more focus on hardware solutions.

The conversation moves to the wider industry, talking about the whole process of acquisition.  Who is left to acquire these days, when the big incumbents already have most of their storage portfolio in place?  Could hyperscalers, with their deep pockets, be good targets for an acquiree?

Looking across the market we see companies that have failed to make it.  Then there are the phoenixes, coming back from the dead.  There are the zombies who continue to exist without moving the market or reaching acquisition.  Of course there are also the darlings who get acquired and attract all the money.

What makes success?  Having a product that solves a real world problem, but at the same time is marketed well.  Apparently having a good colour scheme also helps!

Elapsed Time: 00:31:34


  • 00:00:00 – intros
  • 00:00:10 – Flash Memory Summit Recap
  • 00:02:20 – Why does storage remain so diverse?
  • 00:03:00 – The storage pendulum of hardware and software
  • 00:04:30 – Samsung Galaxy Note – 1TB in your pocket!
  • 00:05:00 – MRAM in IBM’s FlashModule drives
  • 00:06:00 – Acquisition or IPO for startups – which is best?
  • 00:07:30 – Storage startups need investors with deep pockets
  • 00:08:30 – The thing about hardware is that it’s hard….
  • 00:09:10 – Who wants to acquire storage array companies? Anybody?
  • 00:10:00 – Maybe startups need to create complementary technologies?
  • 00:11:20 – How about acquisition by the hyperscalers? Big pockets?
  • 00:12:30 – Hyperscalers don’t need to commercialise products in the same way.
  • 00:14:15 – The dream of the frictionless sale
  • 00:14:20 – Storage companies that have died – Primary Data, Coho Data, Starboard
  • 00:16:00 – The use case of products, like Diablo Technologies
  • 00:17:30 – The Phoenixes – Coraid, Tintri, Violin Systems/Memory
  • 00:20:00 – The perpetuals – X-IO, Nimbus Data, Dot Hill
  • 00:22:00 – So what is the right exit?
  • 00:23:00 – Success?  It’s based on branding colour
  • 00:25:00 – Why not just invent a new market space like Rubrik/Cohesity?
  • 00:26:00 – If you’re profitable, why bother float (unless as an exit strategy)?
  • 00:27:30 – What defines success?  Fixing a real problem.
  • 00:30:40 – Wrap up.

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