Storage Unicorns, Is There Any?

Some surprises and some perspectives
By Philippe Nicolas on 2017.03.01

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CB Insights has published last February 1 its unicorn study, with 185 companies individually valuated at more than $1 billion for a total of $665 billion valuation, where several confirmations and obviousness could be read.

The firm lists only two storage companies, Datto and Actifio, in the Unicorn club and we can associate Cloudera and Docker from adjacent markets. We are a little bit surprised not to see some vendors, we should like to add six other companies and we are pretty sure you would share my point of view about them.

First, of course DDN Storage aka DataDirect Networks, still a private company, founded in 1998 with 500+ employees today, should be added to this club. It has raised in 2002 a series A of $9.9 million fully reimbursed for years now. The company is clearly the number one and larger private storage player outside the public famous ones. DDN reputation is demonstrated for years in HPC storage and also promoted global data storage approach with an end-to-end philosophy.

Second, we consider two recent vendors, Cohesity and Rubrik, playing in the hot secondary storage segment. Founded mid 2013, Cohesity has raised $70 million and Rubrik, founded in January 2014, received $112 million and claimed recently to reach the $100 million range in just six quarters of sales. Clearly if they are not in the club, they will join it very soon.

Third, Kaminario and Tintri could be also added to this list. They have raised respectively $227.7 million and $260 million and they're hot on the market, being a prey for several gorillas. In the same storage category, Pure Storage was in this club and made an IPO in October 2015, its current value is $2.2 billion, same remark for Nimble Storage who did an interesting IPO in December 2013 and was in that club at that time. And SolidFire missed it for a short distance and finally got acquired by NetApp for $870 million in December 2015. 

In the object storage sub-storage category, the only player that demonstrates its value and proven results was Cleversafe acquired by IBM in October 2015 for $1.3 billion in cash. Keep in mind that according to estimates made by research firm Pitchbook Data, the company was valued at $200+ million based on its last round of financing in 2013. We don't see in short term other players in that group reaching that level.

In addition to this list, being in the club doesn't mean you stay in forever. The good example is SimpliVity who raised its last round at a $1.1 billion valuation and finally got acquired for - just - $650 million by HPE, good for HPE in this current tough time and recent disappointed results.

We should add Veritas Technologies who is of course an unicorn even a 'decacorn', obviously a worldwide leader in data management, spun-off from Symantec in January 2016.

2017 will be interesting to watch for this Unicorn Club and CB Insights will have to consider these six companies mentioned above: DDN, Cohesity, Rubrik, Kaminario, Tintri and Veritas.