Hammerspace concept ready for market testing

How well is Hammerspace doing? It’s at an early stage of developing its business but an interview with CEO and founder David Flynn has dropped some hints.

Flynn founded Hammerspace in 2018, set up after venture capitalist-funded Primary Data was shut down in January 2018. Primary Data – co-founded by Flynn, its CTO, CMO Rick White, and CEO Lance Smith in 2013 – provided DataSphere technology, raising around $83 million from VCs. Flynn and White came from Fusion-io, which they founded and left in 2013 after it went public. SanDisk bought Fusion-io in 2014 for $1.1 billion.

Primary Data’s DataSphere software was an out-of-band abstraction access layer that sat across a customer’s storage – including primary, secondary, nearline, and unstructured data – effectively unifying file, block and object data, allowing storage resources to be optimized and better managed.

Hammerspace, which is based on Primary Data’s IP assets, also provides an out-of-band abstraction layer, its Global Data Environment, which unifies file and object silos into a single network-attached storage (NAS) resource that can provide access to unstructured data in hybrid or public clouds. 

David Flynn, Hammerspace
David Flynn

Flynn is the main investor at Hammerspace, the others being high net worth individuals, and it represents a huge financial bet by him personally. “I have financed the majority of the company myself, over half of the investment capital has come from me personally. And, you know, there were times especially with having to buy the [Primary Data] assets out from the VCs that there was real concern about the ability to see it through.” 

By mid-2021 Hammerspace had a saleable product and Flynn recruited sales and marketing leadership:

  • Chris Bowen, SVP Global Sales – August 2021
  • Jim Choumas, VP Channel Sales – August 2021
  • Molly Presley, SVP Marketing – November 2021
  • Floyd Christofferson, VP Product Marketing – January 2022

Here we are, 14 months later, and wondering how the Hammerspace business is progressing. Sales have been made in the past two quarters, Flynn told us, and he said the recruitment of senior sales personnel that had helped to build Qumulo, Isilon and Avere was a validation of his business.

These new hires dipped into their own pockets as well, with Flynn saying: “Many of them invested their own dollars in our bridge round.” This tells us, incidentally, that Hammerspace has had a bridge funding round some time after August 2021.

A reseller agreement has been set up with AMPD Ventures, which is active in various markets including multiplayer video games and esports, computer graphics rendering, artificial intelligence, machine learning, mixed reality, and big data processing.

Hammerspace is now rolling out proof-of-concept software and has gone into production with both small and large movie studios such as Jellyfish Pictures.

Flynn said: “In the modern world, markets are layered with separate companies that work together and collaborate, whether you’re building rockets or building movies or games. And so a lot of the subsidiary studios collaborate with all the big major studios. The product that is being supplied across the supply chain is data, data is the product, and the state of the art in the past has been to share data by copying between the different organisations up and down the supply chain. What Hammerspace represents is for the first time the ability to share data by reference, by having people access the same file system across different organizations.”

He talked about a virtual data supply chain, saying: “Files don’t actually get shipped from one stage or one layer to another” as a default but only when needed.

Hammerspace, he added, was penetrating this market enough so that “we’re starting to see some of that network effect where some company is using it, not just because they’re recommending it highly, but because there’s actual need to collaborate in that way.”

In fact Flynn says Hammerspace is seeing phenomenal growth, mentioning Fortune 500 businesses and a law firm but being restricted by his customers’ unwillingness to be named.

Apart from Seagate, Hammerspace hasn’t publicly entered into any specific go-to-market partnerships with other suppliers in the wider storage field, but Flynn said “we have great partnering in the field” without mentioning specific suppliers. These suppliers’ field sales people appreciate what Hammerspace has brought to the table in terms of remote access, data orchestration, and metadata workflows, he said.

“I’m trying to be the thing which unifies all the storage. And by not being the storage… it allows us to go to market with all of these guys, as partners.”

The Hammerspace data plane is also attractive to application vendors in a multi-cloud environment, Flynn said. “Instead of every app vendor having to build their own data movers their own way to do hybrid cloud their own way, and to do multi cloud, the app vendors can now depend on a data plane that can do that. And we’re starting to see traction there with application vendors.”

He’s convinced that this concept has great potential traction. “I tell you, at the end of the day, a platform is what’s going to win. And Hammerspace will be the platform for how applications operate in a decentralised cloud world, because somebody has to solve it once and for all, as opposed to having it being solved individually by each and every one.”

It’s starting to look as if Hammerspace is gaining some market traction and building a customer base and revenue streams. If Flynn can repeat his Fusion-io success, that will be a milestone for him and could prompt some global filesystem supplier realignments.

Previously B&F looked at Hammerspace’s market positioning and technology positioning.