Newcomer StorCentric biz buys Nexsan and Drobo

StorCentric is the brand new home for the Nexsan array and Drobo prosumer storage businesses, having bought them from their current owners.


Behind this apparently simple transaction is a tight mesh of private equity manoeuvres.

First we have to have a history lesson.

In 2007 Nexsan Technologies, founded in 1999, was a storage subsystem developer with SATA disk arrays and an Assureon content-addressed array for archiving.

Data Robotics was founded in 2007 by Geoff Barrall and developed a consumer/prosumer file storage product called Drobo. Barrall had previously founded BlueArc, the NAS supplier bought by HDS.

Connected Data was founded in 2012, also by Geoff Barrall. Its product is the private cloud file sync’n’share Transporter device.

Data Robotics, now with its name changed to Drobo, was bought by/merged with Connected Data in 2013.

Nexsan was bought by Imation for $120m in 2013. Imation was then in a loss-making and restructuring phase.

Drobo was bought by an investment group in May 2015, with ex-Brocade exec Mihir Shah becoming its CEO.

Imation bought Connected Data for $7.5million in October 2015,

Imation subsequently imploded, with Nexsan and Connected Data being bought in a non-cash deal by private equity house Spear Point Capital Management in Jan/February 2017. Ron Bienvenu, Spear Point co-founder and managing partner, becoming its CEO and exec vice-chair. Trevor Colhoun, SpearPoint co-founder and managing partner was exec chairman.

Geoff Barrall became the COO and John Westfield was hired as Nexsan’s CFO. Victoria Grey was hired as the CMO. She is no longer there. Neither is Geoff Barrall.

StorCentric

What has happened is that a new company, StorCentric, has been set up, with funds from Humilis Holdings and some others. Now it begins to get murky.

Spear Point Capital is being merged into Humilis Holdings and a Humilis managing partner is Trevor Colhoun.

StorCentric’s board has four members; Trevor Colhoun, Mihir Shah who is StorCentric’s CEO, Mike Edwards of the Atlas Technology Group investment bank and a Drobo board member, and Peter Richards who we understand has stints at Empire Capital and now Dune Road Capital in his CV.

Details of the buying of Nexsan and Drobo by StorCentric have not been revealed, neither the cash value or its instantiation in cash or shares. Equity was provided by existing investors and the balance was a bank loan.

StorCentric will run Nexsan and Drobo as separate divisions. We’re told Connected Data is really not a major part of this. The technology is there but not being sold any more.

At Nexsan Gregg Pugmire is the Global VP of Sales and will have responsibility for both brand and revenue.

Read Fenner is the Global VP of Sales at Drobo and will have responsibility for both brand and revenue.

Nexsan CTO, and founder, Gary Watson, is StorCentric’s CTO.

Where do we go from here?

Mihir Shah tells us there is still a lack of profitability in the storage industry. The setting up of StorCentric is about taking two established brands with solid reputations and building on them to make one profitable, technically rich company.

It will have over 150 employees across locations in North America, Europe and Asia, and says it will help customers scale their businesses while accessing, backing up and archiving critical data.

A Shah quote said: “StorCentric is strongly positioned for future growth and innovation in the storage industry. We will continue to execute on our growth strategy, both organic and through acquisitions. Our focus will be on additional software and hardware products that address the needs of our customers and partners.”

Nineteen years after founding Nexsan a Watson quote said: “Both Drobo and Nexsan have been developing new integration points to the evolving hybrid cloud world and these acquisitions gives us the opportunity to work together on developing solutions which automatically optimise both on-premises and on-cloud information management and governance.”

Watch this space for a hopefully simpler and developing story.

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