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Peter Godman

When we first stumbled on stealthy Qumulo a few months ago, the former Isilon engineers leading the charge at the data storage startup didn’t want to disclose what they were building.

Well, fast forward seven months and the crew at Qumulo … still aren’t saying much.

But they’ve already convinced some deep-pocketed folks of the value of their idea. Today, Qumulo is announcing a whopping $24.5 million first-round of financing from Highland Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Valhalla Partners.

That’s one of the biggest series A deals we’ve encountered this year in Seattle (though nowhere near the more than $100 million raised by domain name registar Donuts). It also comes on the heels of Seattle startup Zulily raising a huge $85 million financing round.

“The combined insight and collective wisdom of our investors will accelerate our vision for the future of data storage,” said Qumulo CEO Peter Godman, the former vice president of engineering at Isilon.

And what’s the stealthy company going to do with the funds?

In an interview with GeekWire, Godman said they plan to use the new cash to build out the product and the team. Over the next 18 months, Qumulo is looking to attract 50 new employees, adding to its team of 18 staffers. (The company is currently looking at new office space in Seattle to accommodate the growth).

Godman said that Qumulo is trying to help companies deal with the “enormous explosion of data in the world.”

“What happens when you take a growth in storage, like 50X or 70X, and you marry that with relatively modest increases in global IT budgets,” he said. “That drives the need for fundamentally new and better ways of dealing with all of that data.”

Of course, Isilon, which was sold to EMC for $2.25 billion in late 2010, is very much trying to help companies deal with that information influx.

Godman declined to comment when asked whether Qumulo was a hardware or software company, or a combination of both like an Isilon.

“That kind of gets at product details,” he said. “We prefer not to get into that right now.”

Asked whether Isilon could be a competitor, Godman said that Qumulo is “focused on a different part of the problem.” He declined to offer more details on the competitive makeup of the market they are attacking.

As  a result of the deal, Madrona’s Matt McIlwain and Highland Capital’s Peter Bell are joining the board of Qumulo. (Madrona was one of the earliest investors in Isilon, and McIlwain sat on the company’s board up until its sale to EMC).

In addition to Godman, Qumulo is led by Aaron Passey and Neal Fachan. All three worked at Isilon in various engineering roles through much of the last decade.

“A new category of storage is needed to manage the proliferation of data that enterprises face,” said Bell in a release. “Data that doubles every two years, a growing scarcity of storage administrators, and the advent of shared, virtualized environments put tremendous pressure on storage systems. Qumulo has the right strategy and team to drive a leadership position in the market.”

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