Intel Snacks on Acirro's Scraps

Chipmaker earlier this year bought the assets of dormant distributed file system startup. But why?

August 29, 2003

2 Min Read
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All right -- we've learned our lesson. Just because a company lays off its staff, takes down its Website, and stops answering its phones doesn't necessarily mean it's totally dead and gone.

Take, for example, Acirro Inc. The last time we heard anything about the distributed NAS aggregation software startup was September 2002, when it failed to raise a second round of funding and was forced to let go its 25 employees (see Acirro Hits Zero).

But it turns out two Acirro employees had stayed on -- and they remained with the company long enough to negotiate the sale of the company's intellectual property, source code, and hardware devices to Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) for an undisclosed amount in February 2003.

"It was not the typical post-2001 Silicon Valley threnody," claims Robert Wilson, Acirro's former VP of business strategy.

Wilson and Rod Kalpakoff, director of sales and systems engineering, approached Intel, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), and Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) seeking a deal. By December 2002, they ended up with two bids, and accepted Intel's. (Wilson won't say who the other final bidder was.)Unfortunately, it's not at all clear what Intel intends to do with the Acirro technology. Intel spokeswoman Laura Anderson confirms that the company purchased some intellectual property from Acirro, but she says "we have no comment on what we may or may not plan to do with the IP."

Wilson, meanwhile, says he had to wait until now to spill the story because the non-disclosure verbiage in the Intel contact prevented anyone from announcing the purchase for six months.

Acirro, founded in May 2000, had received $9.5 million funding from Raza Foundries and some individual investors. The company in April 2002 released its global distributed file system software, similar in functionality to products from NuView Inc., Sanbolic Inc., and others (see Acirro Breaks Cover and Acirro Releases NAS Software).

Don Basile, a managing director at Raza, now says that Acirro was a victim of bad timing as it tried to land more cash last year. "September 2002 was a very difficult time to raise funding," he says. "From our perspective, the company was beyond a stage where we would lead a round... But we're very pleased in the sense that they created great technology that will live on at Intel."

In a weird postscript to the Acirro saga, is now a site devoted to the campaign by cyberactivist John Gilmore against the U.S. government's requirement that travelers show IDs before flying on airplanes. The irony is that Acirro Inc. had been trying to make sharing information easier.Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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