Agami Sorts Cash Issues

CFO departs as NAS startup prepares for Series C funding in neighborhood of $13 million

May 1, 2007

4 Min Read
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Change is in the air at NAS startup Agami Systems, with CFO Dean Seniff leaving the company, and the vendor looking to clinch more than $13 million in Series C funding.

The finance chief left of his own accord last week "to pursue other opportunities", according to Alison Deane, Agami's senior director of product marketing. Despite Seniff's departure, the vendor is pressing on with its third funding round, which is expected to bring its total funding to more than $62 million.

Agami has already racked up $38 million in two funding rounds, along with an additional $11 million in debt financing last year to flesh out its product roadmap. (See Agami Gets $11M, Agami Plots Upgrade, and Agami Publishes Results.) The vendor, which is up against stiff competition in a NAS market dominated by EMC and NetApp, has undergone a series of metamorphoses in the past few years.

The startup's technology rose from the ashes of Zambeel, the clustered NAS startup that crashed in April of 2003. (See Zambeel Znuffed Out.) A startup called StorAD, heavily stocked with former Zambeel execs, bought Zambeel's IP out of bankruptcy, then changed its name to Agami Systems in 2004. (See From Zambeelians to Chameleons.)

Unlike other members of Agami's staff, Seniff is not a former Zambeelian. Prior to joining the startup, Seniff served as the CFO of software specialist NexPrise and helped manage the firm's acquisition by Ventro for $27 million. The exec also worked in finance and strategic planning at Schlumberger, Amerada Hess, and Pepsi Co.It had been rumored that Agami clinched a $13 million Series C a month ago, although Deane told Byte and Switch that this process is actually still ongoing. "We're still finishing that," she says. "I believe that it's probably going to be a little more [than $13 million] although I don't know the exact numbers at this point in time."

The exec also denied any suggestion that the vendor was running out of cash. "This money is purely for expansion of the company," she says, explaining that Agami wants to bolster its 120-strong workforce. "We're looking to add to that, most definitely in the sales and marketing area."

There had been speculation that Agami would struggle in the face of established NAS vendors, although Deane told Byte and Switch that the startup's list of customers has tripled in the last year. From just 20 customers in May 2006, Agami now has around 65 customers and 150 installed systems, according to the exec. (See Agami Claims 50 Customers.)

Only a handful of these firms have been made public, although Agami's NAS devices are used within the science department at Carnegie Mellon University, San Luis Diagnostic Center in California, and at call center specialist Merced Systems.

Last month the vendor also added iSCSI support to its NAS hardware in an attempt to tap into growing demand for the protocol, which is growing in popularity as a cheaper alternative to Fibre Channel. (See Agami Hauls Hybrid Storage, The iSCSI Subtext to 10-GigE, and Virtual Iron Dangles iSCSI Savings.)The startup, which unlike rival Isilon, targets the mainstream NAS markets as opposed to specific niches, is not planning any major changes in strategy post-Series C, according to Deane. (See Isilon: The Honeymoon's Over.) "This is just a natural progression for the company," she says.

The exec was less forthcoming on the identities of the firms involved in the latest funding round, although one analyst told Byte and Switch that existing backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates are likely to be involved. "I wouldn't be surprised -- [Agami] have got some big money VCs involved that have held on to the company through serial transformations," he says. "Now that they have finally got something that is saleable, they wouldn't back away."

Agami has not yet revealed its plans for replacing Seniff, something which at least one analyst feels could make potential investors jittery. "There's a hole in the line-up," says the analyst, who asked not to be named. "It would make me feel a little queasy."

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Agami Systems Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Isilon Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ISLN)

  • Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • New Enterprise Associates (NEA)

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