From the Partnership
We're particularly pleased this quarter with the successful Series A fundraise for our seed company SolidFire (check out our interview with SolidFire CEO Dave Wright and details of the transaction elsewhere in the newsletter.
As always, we welcome your comments and questions. Please email to email@example.com.
Valhalla CEOs: Dave Wright
Position: Founder and CEO of SolidFire
How did you get the idea for SolidFire, and what convinced you it was a winner?
The genesis for SolidFire really came from my time at Rackspace after they acquired my previous startup, Jungle Disk. The challenges I saw there with providing large-scale primary storage in cloud computing environments, and the poor solutions that legacy enterprise storage companies were offering in that space convinced me that something new and better was needed.
You're a return entrepreneur. What did you learn from JungleDisk that's serving you in good stead at SolidFire?
Perhaps the best lesson was to hire smart people and let them do their jobs. You can't do everything yourself as an entrepreneur, as much as you might want to, so having a team of people you can trust to keep things moving forward is essential.
What advice would you give to investors in picking the right seed projects to bet on?
Picking investments at the seed stage is difficult, as often there is little to go on beyond a founder or two and a Power Point deck.
Picking founders with past success is a common strategy, and not necessarily a bad thing, but first-time founders can be just as successful because they are hungry for a win. Look for a team that knows their market well, has a truly innovative approach, and all the basic skills needed to get the company to the "next level" - whether that's another round of funding, a product launch, or even just a minimum viable product test.
What will cloud computing look like in 2 years? In 10?
In two years I think you'll find that the full range of services that are available today in an on-premises datacenter or in a traditional dedicated hosting environment will be available on-demand from a range of cloud computing providers. Every type of networking, storage, security, and software you could imagine needing will be available for "rent" on a monthly (if not hourly) basis from a wide range of providers.
Traditional packaged software and hardware will still be sold of course, but this will be the beginning of the end of that model.
Within 10 years I think the line between self-hosting and cloud-hosting of software and systems will be completely gone. Some enterprises will continue to host and manage their own IT infrastructure, but the platforms they use will be virtually identical to the service providers' environments. Licensing and deployment will be seamless between the two, and continual increases in bandwidth will make it easier and easier to move workloads between them. Automation of deployment, failover, recovery, and scaling will be the norm rather than the exception and built-in to the platforms rather than an afterthought.
A lot of people see "cloud" as a buzzword or just the current trend of the moment, but the core "cloud" concepts of computing, network, and storage services as a utility are very real, very transformational, and very much the way things will be done going forward. It's just that much better than the way we all used to do it.
Partners' Viewpoint: DC-area Product Innovators' Meetup April 12
Valhallans Kiran Hebar and Kevin Greene will host our second meeting of local Product Innovators on April 12th at the Hilton Arlington.
The first meeting in Tysons Corner early this winter was a great learning experience for us. We gathered a group of "product visionaries" and had some terrific discussions. The group asked for some structured demo time at the next get-together, so at the Arlington meeting in April, five companies (Big Universe, nExercise, Ringio, Workforce Growth, and Oculis Labs) will demo to a group of seasoned product professionals to gain access to quality product feedback, ideas and best practices.
We encourage any product innovators from the DC metroplex (or beyond) to join us. RSVP for the 4/12 Arlington gathering at the Product Innovators' Meetup page or via email to Kiran or Kevin.
Partners' Viewpoint: Valhalla Hosts "StorageFest One" Dinner January 24 in Palo Alto
On January 24 at Zibibbo restaurant in Palo Alto, Valhalla General Partners Charles Curran and Hooks Johnston hosted the first of what we plan to be a twice-a-year "StorageFest" event series. Valhalla gathered about 30 data storage luminaries including startup CEOs, leading venture investors, industry analysts, incumbent vendor executives, senior investment bankers and IT customers. The agenda included several informal presentations, Q&A, networking and merriment.
Attendees included: Active Storage, Nirvanix, SolidFire, Valhalla, Battery Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Highland Capital, Intel Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Vector Capital, HP/LeftHand, IBM/Storwize, Bunim Murray, SandForce, Scality, Xiotech, TechValidate, Evercore, William Blair, ExecEvent, and Dragonslayer Consulting.
StorageFest One was a big hit. StorageFest Two is planned for June 7 in Boston. Please let us know if you're interested in StorageFest Two by leaving word at the Valhalla Facebook page or by emailing Charles or Hooks.
Potomac Falls, VA
On January 21, Valhalla Partners participated in a $1.0 million seed investment in FoKL (formerly AppMetrics).
FoKL, based in Potomac Falls, VA, is building an APM (Application Performance Management) business for mobile and other edge devices.
Clipik, Brooklyn, NY
On February 3, 2011, Valhalla Partners made a $200,000 seed investment in Clipik. An Angel investor also participated in the transaction.
Clipik provides an easy-to-use, secure, reliable and fast online video-editing marketplace. Their platform enables seamless interaction between content-generating users and the editors that create memorable videos for those users.
Legolas Media, New York, NY
On March 1, 2011 Legolas Media closed a $5.0 million Series B round led by Valhalla Partners.
Founded in 2009, Legolas Media is the leading provider of next generation audience marketplace solutions. Powered by an innovative and sophisticated advertising platform, Legolas brings actionable intelligence to the trade of buyer-defined audiences. Legolas connects advertisers to publishers and helps them maximize ad performance and revenue in a direct, guaranteed manner.
Flat World Knowledge
Flat World Knowledge, Irvington, NY
On December 21, 2010 Flat World Knowledge closed a $15 million Series B round led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments. Returning investors Valhalla Partners, GSA Venture Partners (formerly Greenhill SAVP), High Peaks Venture Partners, and several angel investors also participated in the round. Valhalla's share of the investment was $2.42 million.
Flat World Knowledge is the largest publisher of free and open college textbooks for students worldwide. To date, more than 1600 professors at over 900 colleges in 44 countries have used Flat World open textbooks.
SolidFire, Suwanee, GA
On January 21, 2011 SolidFire closed an $11.0 million Series A round led by New Enterprise Associates; Valhalla Partners and Novak Biddle also participated investing $5.06 million, $2.97 million and $2.97 million, respectively.
SolidFire, based in Suwanne, GA, is a next-generation storage platform for cloud computing providers and other enterprises that need scalable, reliable storage for thousands of servers. The company's solution allows customers to take advantage of the performance of solid state storage at a price comparable to traditional spinning disk, while significantly reducing operation and storage management costs.
Active Storage, Torrance, CA
On January 25, 2011, Valhalla Partners participated in a $3.0 million Series A-1 financing with Intel Capital and Mission Ventures, all existing investors. Each investor participated with a $1.0 million investment in the company.
Active Storage is a leading developer of SAN asset production solutions for Apple-based infrastructure in education, business, and media production and broadcast.
TidalTV, Inc., Baltimore, MD
On March 9, Valhalla Partners participated in an insider round of financing for Tidal TV. The round provided the company with $30.5 million in proceeds, bringing TidalTV's total funding to $61 million. Existing investors New Enterprise Associates and Comcast Interactive Capital also participated in the round.
TidalTV is a video advertising, optimization, and yield management solutions provider and is working to expand its reach to all video delivery platforms, including television and mobile devices.
Q & A
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Please click here to submit feedback. We will undertake to respond to every submission, and to print those of general interest in this section. The partnership is happy to address topics such as hot technologies, exit strategies, or due diligence. We look forward to hearing from you.
The Valhalla Team
We want, as much as we can, to open up our newsletter to questions, opinions, and suggestions from our readers. The great magic of our newest medium for communication is its interactivity.