Longworth and OVP Put $4M Into Symform, Raise Stakes in Cloud Data Storage

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Seattle area. Bhowmik, for her part, serves on the boards of Cellufun, Viewfinity, and VKernel, and previously has invested in Scanbuy, Marathon, Tizor (acquired by Netezza), Softricity (acquired by Microsoft), and Thor Technologies (acquired by Oracle). She is a veteran of the software firm Object Design and investment banking firm Broadview (now Jefferies).

“We think Symform is bringing a truly disruptive technology to market. They harness the compute, storage and bandwidth capability of commodity (and often unreliable) hardware sitting in millions of office locations worldwide to build an ultra secure, highly resilient and extremely fast virtual cloud that can bring down the cost and increase the speed of many classes of applications,” says Bhowmik, in an e-mail message. “While online backup is gaining some traction overall and there are many players addressing the space, penetration remains very low, especially in segments where data sizes start exceeding 100 [gigabytes]. This is largely due to cost…and the speed of access. Symform’s cloud cuts down both by a factor of 10—we think their flat fee, all you can eat approach combined with the speed of their network is just the catalyst needed to break open this market—particularly in the [small and medium-size business] space.”

Earlier this week, Symform released an upgrade of its online storage and backup technology. The new product lets IT service providers (the company’s distribution partners) set up their own storage infrastructure in the cloud, and make money from it. This is interesting because it could eventually chip away at Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s market share in cloud storage (not to mention EMC, Google, and others), at least for small and medium-size businesses.

Symform will use the new money for growth, Brown says. The company will beef up its engineering and sales teams, and aims to have about 20 employees at the end of 2010. Meanwhile, the plan is for revenues to increase by 300 percent this year, and to double the number of distribution partners to about 2,000. Each of those partners typically has 50 to 100 customers, Brown says, and many of them have previously been selling competitors’ products—so that bodes well for the company.

“We can do a lot of damage in terms of pricing,” he says.

In the longer term, Symform could become a $20 to $30 million company with a staff of just 20 to 30 employees, Brown says. But it’s going to take some time. “You don’t go ‘ka-boom’ in a subscription-based business that’s channel facing,” he says. “It’ll be a long-tail business when you build it over time.”

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