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Storage Unicorn – Update: Private Storage Firms With $1 Billion Valuation

Nominees: Actifio, Datto, DDN Storage, Dropbox, Infinidat, Kaminario, Rubrik, Veritas

Introduction, background and definition
The term Unicorn was first introduced and defined by Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee in a TechCrunch article published in November 2013.

To be included in this select club, a $1 billion valuation for the private firms must be reached.

The initial list published in this reference article contains 39 companies, all Americans. In 2015 with an updated study, this list grew to 84 and very recently CB Insights shows 200 companies (as of 5/31/2017).

In these lists (we refer to the previous CB Insights update), the only storage-related companies listed were Actifio, Datto and DropBox. Actifio belongs to the Big Data category, Datto and Dropbox to the Internet Software and Services one with Glassdoor or Spotify. Pretty strange right? And if you search the term storage, it doesn’t exit at all and it’s a real miss for a $100 billion industry.

I also wrote an article March 1,  2017 published on StorageNewsletter.com to extend the study and provide my vision for storage companies. At that time, I have considered some new potential members and I release here the final list as of June 2017.

This report, established by Condor Consulting Group, will be updated twice a year in June and December.

Dream, myth or reality?
Since this existence of this list, CEOs have a new goal as they wish to belong to it as a form of guarantee of success. And guess what, they forget their mission as they become only driven by this objective. This achievement is an effect or a consequence of their execution, not the opposite.

Finding the right mixture between technology, team and business is a tough journey. And for some executives, it’s just an utopia they will never realize.

On the other hand, a unicorn is about the cream of the cream, the elite group of start-ups. It illustrates the good sign of investors’ money capture and business successes.

Methodology and definition
We concentrate the study on storage and avoid adjacent topics such distributed database and big data/Hadoop, thus we don’t consider companies like DataStax, MongoDB or Cloudera. For the latter it’s even too late as they did their IPO last April.

In order to produce our storage unicorn list, we collect lot of data from various sites such as Crunchbase, PitchBook, CB Insights, press as well, it’s also the interaction we have with many investors, and finally we use different formulas and tools we built that help us to converge towards candidates. It’s all about finding new gems in the industry.

The list also takes into account that companies leave a private status doing an IPO, same thing if they got acquired. This is the case for Pure Storage, Nimble Storage, SimpliVity or Nutanix as they left past lists.

The storage industry has changed a lot during recent decades and the current hot topics are driven by high-level requirements such capacity, security, protection with availability and accessibility. In other term, the software-defined storage wave represents a good starting point and candidates who play in file storage, all kind of storage array and for sure around flash and NVMe, data protection and management and cloud storage have real chances to be listed.

The result

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Based on our methodologies, we establish a list of 8 storage companies: Actifio, Datto, DDN Storage, Dropbox, Infinidat, Kaminario, Rubrik and Veritas.

From CB Insights list, we add three new companies – DDN Storage, Kaminario and Veritas – for a total of 203. It means that only 4% are storage related, a really small percentage and a bit surprising as storage is a hot topic and again a huge market.

Two (25%) companies have Israel roots and six are Americans (75%) but none of them come from Europe and AsiaPac.

The storage hardware group has three companies: DDN Storage, Infinidat and Kaminario. The first one is a clear leader in storage for all kinds of high-demanding applications; the company was founded in 1998 and still led by the two same executives. Infinidat, founded in 2009 by Moshe Yanai, and Kaminario, founded in 2010, both with Israeli roots, are also nominated in this category.

Interestingly, Rubrik and Veritas Technologies represent two sides of the data management era, Veritas coming from Symantec and before VERITAS Software and Rubrik, a recent player in the new data protection wave.

Datto is an exception with “just” $100 million raised when all others, except DDN, have raised more than $200 million in total.

 Companies  Years founded Year
when joined the club
to join the club
Total capital raised
($ million)
Actifio 2009 2014 5 Data Storage
(Data Management)
Datto 2007 2015 8 Data Storage
(Data Management)
DDN Storage 1998 2017 19
(but the club didn’t exist in the past) 
Data Storage
(Storage Hardware)
Dropbox 2007 2011 4 Data Storage
(Internet Storage)
Infinidat 2009 2015 6 Data Storage
(Storage Hardware)
Kaminario 2010 2017 7 Data Storage
(Storage Hardware)
Rubrik 2014 2017 3 Data Storage
(Data Management)
Veritas 2016 2016 Since the spin-off from Symantec in 2016  Data Storage
(Data Management)

As we track more than 150 storage companies, we are confident to add more private firms in our next report end of 2017 as several of them grow fast with real market traction and technology innovation.