Cirtas Systems secures $22.5 million Series B

Along with new funding from Shasta Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners, Cirtas names new CEO

Financial trends and news by Ronny Kerr
January 25, 2011
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Cirtas Systems, a company making cloud storage work like onsite enterprise storage arrays, announced Monday that it has closed a $22.5 million Series B funding round led by Shasta Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners along with first round investors NEA, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Amazon. (It’s worth noting that Amazon is itself one of the world’s largest cloud storage providers and, besides Cirtas, has not invested in any other cloud vendors in the space.)
As part of the deal, Ravi Mohan of Shasta Ventures will take a seat on the company’s board of directors. Cirtas has raised a total of $32.5 million in funding to date.
Founded in 2008 and headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Cirtas produces a hybrid cloud storage solution called the Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller. Just launched in September 2010, Bluejet is a cloud controller specifically designed to efficiently interact with an off-site array of disk drives--cloud storage--as if those drives were located locally. It’s supposed to be the best of both worlds: cloud storage without compromising security and at a tenth of the cost.
The new funding will largely be used to further produce Bluejet Controllers.
Along with the new funding, Cirtas also announced today that Gary Messiana has been appointed as the company’s new CEO. Messiana, who previously served as acting CEO at Diligent Software and CEO at Netli Inc., currently holds the title of “Entrepreneur in Residence” at Bessemer Venture Partners, one of the leading investors in Cirtas’ Series B.
“Typically, a VC firm will find an executive that has considerable experience and keep them close to the firm,” Messiana said, explaining his title to me over the phone. The executive will “sit on all meetings concerning deals and valuations and learn to evaluate investment opportunities. You kind of just keep the eye on the ball for future trends and learn an awful lot about how the VC world works from the inside.”
The advantage for the firm is that they “get people that they trust, put them on the bench, keep them around the table and ultimately get to invest behind those people,” as Bessemer did today with Messiana.
Cirtas co-founder and former CEO Dan Decasper, who had already managed many responsibilties associated with CTO, will now officially adopt that title and focus 100 percent on product vision and business strategy.
Regarding the funding, Messiana made clear that a “reasonable portion” of the company’s $10 million Series A is still in the bank, Cirtas did not hesitate to build a “very strong war chest” when the opportunity arose. According to the new CEO, Cirtas experienced very little difficulty in arranging multiple meetings with several VC funds. (It’s a classic business decision that even the giants like Facebook can’t ignore: when you’re being offered money, there’s little reason not to take it, even if you don’t think you need it immediately.)
Cloud storage is a red-hot market, but this is one startup in particular worth watching closely.

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