We are generating unprecedented amounts of data in our personal and professional lives on the internet, and the trend is accelerating. Companies that need to manage that data need novel ways to store it, which is why investors have now poured $230 million into Qumulo in the hopes that its file-storage technology takes off as we close out the decade.
The 180-person company based in downtown Seattle plans to announce later on Tuesday that it has raised $93 million in Series D funding, with new money from late-stage investors like BlackRock Private Equity partners, which led the round. Goldman Sachs and disk drive maker Western Digital joined the cap table, while existing investors Highland Capital Partners, KPCB, Madrona Venture Group, and Valhalla Partners all participated with follow-on funding.
“This is enough capital where we get to decide whether or not we ever want to raise again,” said Qumulo president and CEO Bill Richter, in an interview with GeekWire. He declined to comment on Qumulo’s financial situation, but said the funding gives the company several years of runway to go after this market.
Qumulo makes hardware and software for companies that need file-storage products in their lives. Traditionally, file storage, unlike block storage or object storage, has not scaled as easily as some applications require in the webscale era. Qumulo File Fabric is the technology that has led investors to its door, promising to scale to billions of files for less money than it would have taken to buy all the storage devices that would otherwise be needed.
The company has also partnered with HPE to sell the Qumulo software on HPE hardware, and offers a version of Qumulo File Fabric on Amazon Web Services. Hybrid cloud customers have been a big part of the company’s pitch over the last year or so, as large enterprises with outsized file storage needs decide to keep some workloads in house while sending others to the cloud.
Richter thinks this approach also gives Qumulo a hedge in case AWS decides it ever wants to offer a competing file storage system, as the cloud market leader is sometimes known to do to software companies as it expands the massive number of services it offers. While he was coy about how soon Qumulo is planning to release versions of its software for Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform, the arrival of multicloud options will make it easy for users to move their data between clouds, whereas a cloud vendor’s branded file-storage system is very unlikely to offer the same portability.
Customers include media companies such as DreamWorks Studios, which have to store an ungodly number of video files, as well as companies like Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Sinclair Oil, which generate lots of high-definition medical and geographical imagery. Richter wants to use the new funding to dramatically expand its sales and marketing operation to go after new customers, and also plans to increase its spending on engineering to build out the product line.
With big funding comes big expectations; Richter also declined to comment on the valuation investors have assigned to Qumulo, but this is the company’s third funding round in last three years.
There’s still plenty of business selling smart storage products to enterprises looking to squeeze a few more years out of their current infrastructure. However, Qumulo’s cloud software product strategy is going to be increasingly important as workloads shift in that direction, even among users of hybrid cloud infrastructures.
At the same time, it’s pretty safe to say that Seattle companies understand the value of the public cloud. Richter made it clear that Qumulo will continue to invest in engineering talent in its backyard.
“This is an intensely Seattle company,” he said. “We’re so passionate about the public cloud, and that’s not a mistake; this company was founded in 2012 in the cloud capital of the world.”
Qumulo is the latest Seattle company to raise a substantial funding round in recent months. Dog-sitting startup Rover raised $155 million last month; sales automation startup Outreach raised $65 million in May.