Nimble Storage Closes $40.7M Funding Round, Plots IPO

Hybrid flash and hard drive storage array developer Nimble Storage on Monday said it closed a new round of funding that could be its last before a potential IPO.

The round, worth $40.7 million, brings total funding in San Jose, Calif.-based Nimble Storage to $98 million.

Nimble Storage hybrid solutions integrate high-performance flash storage technology with high-capacity hard disk drives. The company's Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout (CASL) architecture allows the building of storage arrays with up to 36 TB of raw capacity and such functions as dynamic caching with sub-millisecond latency, compression of data by up to 75 percent, thin provisioning, scale-out clustering, instant snapshot and recovery, and replication of data over a WAN.

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The new funds are slated for investing in expanding international sales as well as across-the-board R&D and marketing activities, said Dan Leary, vice president of marketing for Nimble Storage.

"There's a land grab going on in flash storage," Leary said. "We see this big shift going on as the modular storage market shifts to hybrid storage. It's putting this huge $20-billion market in play in a way we've not seen for years."

Nimble Storage primarily competes against storage solutions from Dell, NetApp and EMC, Leary said. "About 75 percent of our competition is against these companies," he said. "We're winning two-thirds of our deals against these three competitors."

Nimble Storage is also competing against flash storage startups, Leary said.

"But, we have over 1,000 customer deployments so far," he said. "That is more than the total of deployments from all flash storage startups between 2010 and 2011. A lot of startups target all-flash storage solutions for performance. But, our platform is optimized for performance, capacity, disaster recovery and data retention."

Over 95 percent of Nimble Storage's sales go through channel partners, and the company has a goal of 100 percent through the channel, Leary said. He divided those sales into channel-associated sales, which refers to sales Nimble Storage initiates and then brings in a channel part, and channel-initiated deals, which are those the company would never have found without help. "We're now seeing channel-initiated deals accounting for over 50 percent of our sales," he said.

NEXT: IPO In The Works

Nimble Storage for now is not cash-flow positive, as it has been focusing on growing its sales as quickly as possible. However, Nimble Storage’s Leary said, operations have been getting more efficient, and the company is on the road to profitability.

Nimble Storage is also on the road towards an IPO, either during the second half of 2013 or the first half of 2014. "It depends on things like how favorably the stock market is looking," he said. "Things that are not under our control."