Exclusive: Datera has gone bust

Datera, the high-end storage software startup, has gone into liquidation. All of the company’s assets are being transferred to the assignee of the creditors, according to a letter dated February 19 seen by Blocks & Files.

Michael Maidy, who signed the letter, is a managing member at Sherwood Partners, a business advisory firm specialising in restructuring. He noted in the letter that Datera was originally known as Rising Tide Systems.

A senior source close to the company has confirmed the liquidation.

Datera raised at least $63.9m in funding. The investors, led by Khosla Ventures, look to have taken a bath. Customers, channel partners and staff have lost out as well.

Datera’s tide goes out

Datera was founded in 2013 by ex-CEO Mark Fleischmann, ex-CTO Nicholas (Nic) Bellinger, and Chief Architect Claudio Fleiner. The company developed Elastic Data Fabric (EDF) software, providing block-access, scale-out, server-based storage running in x86 servers. Datera sold hardware appliances for a while, before becoming a software-only supplier.

The company touted EDF to enterprises and cloud service providers and supported DevOps and Cloud Native apps. Datera said the software provided webscale economics and integrated it with workload orchestration frameworks such as VMWare, Openstack, Docker, Kubernetes, Mesosphere/DC-OS and Cloudstack.

EDF competed with block storage arrays from Dell EMC, Hitachi Vantara, HPE, IBM, NetApp and Pure Storage. It also had to make progress against the hyperconverged systems and never managed to have an outstanding set of advantages against all-flash arrays like those from Pure. Partners like HPE treated it as just another software way to sell servers and had no real commitment to Datera.

Downturn and departures

There was a C-round of funding in May 2018 ,accompanied by cost-cutting and layoffs. Fleischmann resigned the CEO role in December that year. Board member, ex-EMC exec and Data Torrent CEO Guy Churchward then took on the Datera CEO position.

Churchward had two heart attacks in May 2019 but recovered and achieved selling partnerships with HPE and Fujitsu, amongst others. Fleischmann quit altogether in April 2020. And Feiner left in May 2020.

Fast forward to February 2021 and Churchward resigned for health reasons. At the same time, Chief Product Officer Narasimha Valiveti quit to join Oracle. That was, with hindsight, the writing on the wall.

At that time Chief Revenue Officer Flavio Santoni told us: “Guy had a prior agreement with the board to step back at the end of 2020. Our lead investor stepped in as interim CEO to work through the next few moves.”

The liquidation letter is dated four days after we were told this.