Intransa Lands a Third CEO

IP SAN startup appoints 'permanent' CEO (they mean it this time!) and gets $7M more funding

June 11, 2003

4 Min Read
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As Intransa Inc. gears up to start shipping its first product this summer, the IP storage startup has finally settled on who it wants at the helm of the company -- announcing its third CEO in the course of six months -- and has also received an additional $7 million funding (see Intransa Names CEO, Gets $7M Funding).

The San Jose, Calif.-based company said yesterday that it has appointed Avi Katz as its new president and CEO. Most recently, Katz was president and CEO of fabless semiconductor company Equator Technologies Inc. Katz replaces Paul Matteucci, who came onboard in February to replace Alan Kessler as the company's CEO (see Intransa Cranks Up IP SAN). Matteucci, who worked for Adaptec until 1995, is employed by one of Intransa's investors, US Venture Partners, to, when needed, act as interim CEO of some of the companies it funds.

The quick turnover at the top is not a sign of indecision, Katz insists, but rather a part of a very deliberate plan. "This was a very well-planned transition," he says, claiming that Matteucci came on as an interim CEO while Intransa searched for the right person to lead it to the next level. "I have the intention of being a permanent CEO."

While Katz appears to have the experience needed to help take Intransa from an initial development stage to a revenue-generating business, merger and acquisition experience also appear on his resum. Could the startup be gearing up for a takeover? Katz says that’s not on the immediate agenda. "We’re building a company to last and deliver a real legacy to the marketplace," he says, but adds, "We’ll see where it goes."

In addition to the management shakeup, the company also has lined its pockets with $7 million in funding, the final part of its Series B, following the $6 million it raised in January. That brings its total funding to date to $40 million. Participating in the latest round were existing investors Advanced Technology Ventures (ATV), Sofinnova Ventures Inc., Sofinnova Partners, and US Venture Partners, along with a large pension plan that the company wouldn't name (see Intransa Quiet on Plansa).Intransa says it expects to use the latest cash injection to increase its sales and marketing programs, build customer services, and develop of a new generation of products.

Katz says the company, with 65 employees, probably won’t need to increase its staff much as it prepares to start shipping its very first product later this month.

"The funding was based on them not only meeting their milestones, but exceeding them," says Geoffrey Baehr, a partner with US Venture Partners.

A new CEO and the latest influx of cash should simplify Intransa’s next big project: getting its iSCSI-based IP5000 storage system out the door. The company started beta testing its IP SAN box in April and says it plans to announce a ship date within the next few weeks. Katz says that a number of the company’s more than 12 beta customers have voiced interest in becoming paying customers.

The IP5000 consists of iSCSI-based back-end disk enclosures connected to its proprietary storage controllers, which provide volume management and other functions. The system, which connects to servers over standard Gigabit Ethernet, will carry a starting list price of $62,500 for 3.2 Tbytes (1.6 Tbytes usable), including hardware and software.That’s cheap, compared with installing a Fibre Channel SAN, but still quite a chunk of change to hand over to a new startup pushing a technology that has yet to go mainstream. While a few startups are shipping or working on similar products, Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) seems to be the only major competition for iSCSI-enabled servers at the moment. Other startups in this space include EqualLogic Inc. and LeftHand Networks, but LeftHand's system uses a proprietary protocol instead of iSCSI (see EqualLogic Unfurls iSCSI Flag, LeftHand Snatches $20M, and NetApp's IP SAN Wins a Fan).

For most companies, however, the choice won’t be which iSCSI product to buy, but whether to take the leap of faith into IP in the first place. Intransa’s primary competition will probably come from low-end SAN array vendors like Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ).

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Byte and Switch

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