Cloud data startup Qumulo raised $125 million in its latest Series E round, putting it in unicorn territory at a $1.2 billion valuation. Led by BlackRock and backed by Kleiner Perkins, Highland Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Amity Ventures, Qumulo’s latest round brings its total raised funds to $351 million. It also has made Qumulo among the latest group of Seattle-based startups to attain unicorn status since the pandemic started.
Qumulo (pronounced cume-u-low), is a Seattle-based cloud storage startup founded in 2012. Its mission is to help companies manage and file data at massive scale. Using hybrid and multi-cloud environments, Qumulo’s file storage software provides users with a great degree of flexibility. The company manages more than 150 billion files for a range of customers such as Hyundai, Telus, Fujitsu and DreamWorks Animation.
The startup has experienced remarkable growth in a short timeframe. In 2018, Qumulo was raising a mere $93 million Series D round. The company reported over 100% year-over-year growth in the past year, sparking further investor excitement. Although the company was founded in 2012 and snagged a $24.5 million Series A round back then, it elected to spend its first few years performing market research. Its first storage product was launched in 2014, making its rapid progression all the more noteworthy.
Since the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were implemented, Qumulo has seen growing demand and increased interest from venture capital firms. As CEO Bill Richter described the customer situation, “they called us at the onset of the crisis and said ‘you have to help us, we have to scale faster.’” As a result, the company beat its pre-COVID revenue estimates for the most recent quarter that ended in April. Other Seattle billion-dollar technology startups have similarly benefited from surging demand stemming from the pandemic including Auth0 and Outreach. This tracks a nationwide trend of risk-management and security startups receiving an influx of venture capital funding since the pandemic’s onset. According to PitchBook Data, information-security software startups have raised $4.3 billion on 231 deals during the first half of this year. This exceeds the amount raised during the same period last year.
With over 300 employees, Qumulo intends to hire an additional 100 employees by the end of the year. The company has stressed its commitment to promoting a diverse workforce. In addition to allocating some of its newly raised Series E funds toward expanding employee numbers, it also plans to invest in greater global market expansion and strategic partnerships.
Large volumes of unstructured data in the cloud ecosystem and shifts to the cloud have made Qumulo’s storage products invaluable. The company’s partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has further solidified its position, facilitating the sale of Qumulo software on HPE hardware. Major competitors to Qumulo include Dell EMC, Pure Storage, IBM and NetApp. Bill Richter, Qumulo’s CEO since 2016, was previously at another data storage company called Isilon Systems. Notably, Isilon Systems was sold to Dell EMC in 2010 for $2.25 billion in a transaction that was one of the largest Seattle-based technology acquisitions at the time.
Qumulo’s ability to tackle diverse enterprise storage needs with ease has made its digital management services a disruptive force. Even though Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and similar platforms each have their own file storage services, Qumulo believes its products stand out due to their flexibility. Qumulo’s software is able to offer a single file data system that can operate at scale across multiple public clouds and private environments.
To illustrate, Qumulo’s platform has been integral to the implementation of health research projects by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). As a research center that analyzes large volumes of data in order to produce global health statistics and impact evaluation studies, the organization relies on sound data management platforms. Qumulo has proved critical in helping IHME process petabytes of research data. This in turn has supported IHME in generating research results that play a role in fighting global diseases and improving healthcare policy.
In the media and entertainment space, Qumulo likewise has proven useful. Cinesite Studios, the studio responsible for productions such as the Avengers and James Bond, utilizes Qumulo alongside AWS in order to deliver ultra-fast, high quality animations. Leveraging the hybrid file data functionality, Cinesite has been able to sustain complex workflows for visual effects. Notably, Qumulo’s file system running on AWS facilitated the scalability of 16K video workstreams for Cinesite.
Thus far in 2020, Qumulo has entered into a number of strategic partnerships. Examples include partnering with oil and gas data company OvationData and assisting robotics startup AutonomouStuff. Samir Menon, a director at BlackRock, captures the positive sentiments surrounding this buzzworthy startup, “Qumulo’s disruptive model has defined an entirely new category that tackles the formidable challenge of creating and managing digital content at a scale and performance that is only getting bigger.” Indeed, Qumulo has emerged as a clear winner from the COVID-19 era as cloud-based collaboration tools become all the more core to enterprises.