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Nimble Storage – An IPO or an Acquisition Target?

Posted on Friday, Sep 6th 2013

According to market reports, the network storage market is estimated to be worth $20 billion this year. Software solutions within this market are projected to grow 15% annually and account for nearly $5 billion of this market. Another report, IHS iSuppli Data Flash Market Tracker, estimates the NAND Flash memory market  to grow 8% in 2012 to $22.9 billion. The researcher estimates that the market will grow to $30.9 billion by 2016.

Nimble Storage’s Offerings
San Jose, California–based Nimble Storage is one of the faster growing organizations within this data storage space. It was founded in 2008 by Varun Mehta and Umesh Maheshwari, alumni from Data Domain and NetApp, with the mission of providing “the most efficient storage platform”.

It is not only larger organizations, but smaller ones as well that are dealing with ever-growing data storage requirements. Nimble’s products are focused on the small and medium organizations. The company provides data storage and backup appliances that help smaller organizations manage data requirements without needing to employ a dedicated IT team and servers. It offers a suite of four appliances that integrate storage, backup, and disaster-recovery solutions within a box. It is able to lower the organization’s equipment cost through a pioneering flash-optimized storage architecture that provides flash-accelerated primary storage performance, instant backup and restoration, application-integrated data protection, and offsite disaster recovery.

Nimble launched its product in 2010 and since then has seen fast-paced growth. It has a customer base of more than 1,750 organizations worldwide, with names like Sacramento City College, Plaxo and the City of Cupertino, to name a few. Since its launch, Nimble has shipped more than 2,000 storage arrays to date. For the last quarter alone, it shipped more than 10 petabytes of hybrid flash storage.

Nimble Storage’s Financials
Nimble does not disclose detailed financial, but earlier this year it revealed that for the year ended January 2013, it was operating at an annual run rate of more than $100 million in bookings. Revenues for the company have grown more than 400% over the year and Nimble Storage is now present in international markets, including Europe, Asia Pacific and Australia.

Till date, the company has been venture funded with $98 million received from Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, ARTIS Ventures, and GGV Capital. Of this, it raised $40 million in November 2012 at an estimated $627 million valuation.

The Flash storage market is an attractive space right now. Earlier this year, EMC acquired all-Flash startup, XtremIO, for an estimated $430 million. Another competitor we covered earlier, Violin Memory, which also operates at estimated revenues of $100 million, was valued at over $850 million and was also eying an IPO this year. Analysts believe that Nimble has a good market appeal as its product integrates Flash and hard drives and is able to offer high level of flexibility to customers who can choose the ratio of flash to hard disk capacity based on their needs.

According to market reports, Nimble is eying an IPO latest by 2014 and has hired Goldman Sachs to lead the initiative. But given its product strength, even if the company does not list, there will be tech giants like Cisco that would be interested in buying Nimble to strengthen their own positions in the data storage space.

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