Agami Comes Clean

NAS startup appoints new CEO and talks about turnover among execs, salesforce

May 2, 2007

4 Min Read
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More upheaval at enigmatic NAS startup Agami Systems, with the vendor introducing a new CEO today, just a week after CFO Dean Seniff parted company with the firm. (See Agami Appoints Prez, CEO.)

Agami has certainly been putting out plenty of mixed messages lately. Yesterday the firm told Byte and Switch that Seniff was the vendor's only major personnel change "at this point in time," only to promote chief technologist David Stiles to CEO less than 24 hours later. (See Agami Sorts Cash Issues.)

Former Redback Networks and Nexgen Microsystems exec Stiles takes the Agami reins from founding CEO Kumar Sreekanti. "The feeling among all of us -- Kumar, myself, and the board -- was that it was time to move on to a new leader," says Stiles, adding that Sreekanti himself initiated this process.

The outgoing CEO is staying with the company in a full-time role and will also remain chairman of the board. "We have to work out an appropriate role for him within the company, probably on the technology side," says Stiles.

Agami also shined some light on Seniff's departure today. Initially, the vendor had said that the CFO left of his own accord, although Stiles described a different course of events to Byte and Switch. "Dean was requested to leave by me, he agreed to that, and resigned," he says, although would not reveal the reasons behind this.At least one Agami customer, who asked not to be named, admitted that the vendor's personnel changes are making him nervous. "When a company is like this, having a little bit of trouble -- it concerns me," he says, adding that he has not yet experienced any service or delivery problems from the vendor.

Rumors nonetheless continue to circulate about the health of Agami, and it has even been suggested that the firm recently sacked almost half its sales force. "From what I understand, there were some sales people that were not performing [and] there were some regions of the U.S. that did not make many sales," adds the customer.

CEO Stiles admits that Agami did get rid of some salespeople recently. "It was a few people, it was not a large number," he says.

Agami is currently sniffing around for financial backing, and the vendor claims to have completed the first of two possible "closings" for a Series C round. (See Agami Gets $11M, Agami Plots Upgrade, and Agami Publishes Results.) Stiles would not reveal which investors the firm is dealing with, nor provide a specific timeframe for the round, which is said to be worth $13 million.

Agami's existing investors are Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Apex Venture Partners, and Alta Partners, although none of these firms responded to calls for comment from Byte and Switch today.Despite the vendor's recent financial maneuverings, Stiles denied the suggestion that Agami is running out of money. "We have got what we need -- there's money in bank," he says, without revealing actual figures.

Agami, which is up against established vendors such as Network Appliance and EMC, may need this cash if it is to really make its presence felt in the NAS market. Even rival Isilon, which targets specific niches, as opposed to the mainstream NAS sector, has had its recent struggles. (See Isilon: The Honeymoon's Over.)

Agami claims that it has increased its customer base from 20 to 65 in the last 12 months. The firm is also developing its next-generation product, which will include enhanced replication features, according to Stiles.

At least one analyst told Byte and Switch that he is growing ever more skeptical about the claims of storage startups. "I am a lot more cautious these days because of the NeoPath thing," says Tony Asaro of the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). (See Cisco Completes Acquisition and Cisco Nabs NeoPath.) "They were talking about all this world-conquering stuff and they went out and got bought for very little money."

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Agami Systems Inc.

  • Alta Partners

  • Apex Investment Partners

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

  • Isilon Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ISLN)

  • Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • New Enterprise Associates (NEA)

  • Redback Networks Inc.0

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