From Zambeelians to Chameleons

Failed NAS startup tries to get going two name-changes later

July 22, 2004

3 Min Read
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The remains of the reincarnated startup once known as Zambeel (before it tried to rise again as StorAD) has a new name, new home, and new Indian development center (see Zambeelians Reemerge at StorAD and Zambeelian Refugee Heads to Dell).

According to forms filed with the state of California, StorAD changed its name to Agami Systems Inc. in March and operates out of San Jose. It's unclear how many of the old Zambeel bunch are still around but chief architect Bill Earl and the Zambeel VCs remain with Agami. Former Zambeel senior engineer John Galloway, who was among the original StorAD bunch, left last summer.

The biggest name associated with the company is one of its VCs, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers general partner and former Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) CEO Vinod Khosla (see Vinod Khosla and The Top 10 Movers and Shakers in Optical Networking). Khosla sits on Agamis board and apparently recruited Agaim CEO Kumar Sreekanti from Omniva Policy Systems, another Kleiner Perkins investment.

Khosla, known for nurturing startups, helped take Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) and Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV) public. He’s had failures, too, including ExciteAtHome and Zambeel. Former Zambeel VCs Apex Venture Partners and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) are the other Agami investors.

For now, Agami remains in deep stealth. Khosla’s office said he was away this summer, and a request to speak with Sreekanti brought an email response from another employee: “We are currently in stealth mode, and hence are sharing information in a very limited fashion at this time." When asked what type of product the company is working on, he responded that "under threat of bodily harm I unfortunately cannot say.” (We hope he was joking.)Agami’s Indian operatives aren’t so tight-lipped. The Financial Times of India today reported that Agami is setting up an R&D center in Hyderabad to develop high-end SAN disaster recovery products. Agami is expected to open its Indian R&D center within three months, with an initial team of 30 to go along with 40 U.S. employees in San Jose.

The Agami employee we contacted says the Financial Times story contained inaccuracies but would not elaborate.

Lots of clues, but nothing to hang a hat on. Apex’s Website offers this description: “Agami's next generation network storage systems integrate sophisticated enterprise-level functions in software, with a platform based on mainstream, high-performance hardware technologies…”

Further hints about Agami come from its genealogy. Zambeel built a high-scale, clustered NAS system based on commodity components but closed in April of 2003 after burning through $66 million in funding and selling just one system (see Zambeel Znuffed Out). However, Byte and Switch reported in May 2003 that Zambeel raised a $12 million round of additional funding weeks before its demise.

Apex led the funding, with Kleiner Perkins and NEA participating. One of the conditions of the funding was that Zambeel start anew so it could get rid of its debt liabilities. StorAD bought Zambeel’s intellectual property, and sources said it was considering making a software-only product out of Zambeel's distributed file system technology.— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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