Dell Sets $60 Million Venture Fund for Storage Startups
Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), which built its storage business on acquisitions, has set up a $60 million fund to finance storage startups, planning to invest $3 million to $5 million per round to establish equity positions in as many as 10 of what it believes are “promising” young storage ventures.
Michael Dell, Dell chairman and chief executive, disclosed the Dell Fluid Data Storage Fund Tuesday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. “Dell has a long history in seed investments in interesting technology companies,” Dell told attendees. “We really believe in this explosion of data driven a lot by smartphones and tablets.”
Jim Lussier, Dell Ventures managing director, confirmed in a blog post that Dell has “set our sights on investing in five to ten (sic) promising storage startups. We plan to obtain equity positions in these innovative companies, with average investments of $3-5 million per round.”
Published reports say Lussier and Carter George, Dell Storage Strategy executive director, are expected to run the Fluid Data Storage Fund.
According to the company, Dell plans to co-invest in the storage startups with venture capital firms and will bring more than financing to the party. “We plan to invest more than just money; we will contribute with sweat equity too, bringing the power of Dell to startups. Unlike pure financially oriented VCs (whom we plan to co-invest with), we bring a global brand and footprint, technical expertise and IP, OEM and go-to-market capabilities,” Lussier said.
He said that Dell’s end goal with the storage venture fund was to “change the economics of the storage industry by doing two things – bringing high-end enterprise features to the broad midmarket and solving enterprise problems at a midrange price point. Our storage investments will align to these tenets that we see as key to the future of storage.”
To uncover and evaluate potential investment opportunities, Dell has built a team of experts drawn from its storage, software, CTO and corporate development units, Lussier said. Should Dell take a position in a company, the team is charged with overseeing the investment “from idea through incubation and finally to market,” he said.
Storage is one of a number of strategic investment areas Dell has targeted as it tries to transform from a PC maker to a provider of enterprise solutions, services and software. Other key segments include servers, networking, cloud computing and virtualization, analytics/BI/Big Data, mobility, end user computing, services and software.
Even after a spate of acquisitions — namely the high-profile $1.4 billion EqualLogic buyout, among purchases of Exanet, Ocarina Networks, Compellent, AppAssure and, most recently, Quest Software — storage occupies a small portion of Dell’s revenue, dwarfed by PCs, software, peripherals, services and services. In Dell’s Q1 2013, storage accounted for $444 million, or about 3 percent, of the vendor’s $14.4 billion in sales.