Pliant Tech Raises $8 Million

Pliant Technology, a Milpitas, Calif.-based developer of solid-state drive storage devices for enterprise computing, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round.



Pliant Technology today announced that it has received $8 million in Series A funding to drive the development of a new class of solid state drive (SSD) storage devices for enterprise computing markets. Pliant’s new Enterprise Flash Drive (EFD) devices are being designed to deliver dramatically higher levels of performance while meeting the growing need for increased energy efficiency and reliability in enterprise computing environments.


The Series A funding was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, a leading venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., that focuses on early-stage IT- and energy-related investments.


Pliant Technology was formed by several of the foremost experts and innovators in the data storage industry. The Pliant executive team, which collectively has more than 100 years of storage industry experience developing new technologies, bringing products to market, rapidly capturing dominant market share, and providing significant returns to investors, includes the following key individuals:

* Jim McCoy, Chairman — Co-Founder of Maxtor and Quantum
* Amyl Ahola, CEO — Former CEO of TeraStor, vice president at Seagate and Control Data
* Mike Chenery, President/Founder — Former vice president of advanced product engineering at Fujitsu
* Doug Prins, Founder/Chief Architect — Former consultant for Fujitsu, Emulex, and Q-Logic
* Aaron Olbrich, Founder/CTO — Formerly at Fujitsu and IBM


Today, high-performance enterprise IT computing systems are
increasingly constrained by the limits of traditional hard drive technology that can provide only incremental improvements in transactional performance. As a result, many IT managers have had to increase I/O performance by over provisioning hard drives resulting in significantly higher cost, power consumption and failure rates. At the same time, current attempts to improve performance using solid state storage solutions are falling short of enterprise system needs, delivering only marginal performance improvements in little more than re-packaged consumer Flash solid state storage.


“Pliant’s innovative vision and technology approach is possible because of the extensive collective experience of a team with an unmatched track record of success in the storage industry,” said Amyl Ahola, CEO Pliant Technologies. “We are well on track to deliver the industry’s first truly innovative EFD solution later this year — a device that will deliver
unequaled enterprise performance and reliability while at the same time enabling significant cost saving and power reductions compared to today’s best performing hard drives. We believe that these exponential performance and efficiency gains will allow organizations to dramatically expand the capabilities of their systems in new and innovative ways.”


According to Barry Eggers, General Partner of Lightspeed Venture Partners, the lead investor in the Series A funding round, Pliant’s new approach to SSD storage technology well-exceeds the performance of existing solutions. “Rotating disk drives, one of the last bastions of moving parts in the data center, will start to feel the heat as flash based storage solutions reach new levels of performance and reliability for the enterprise,” said Eggers. “Flash-based storage offers better performance, higher storage densities and lower power requirements. However, existing SSD solutions have largely been relegated to niche applications. Pliant’s EFD solution offers the level of performance and efficiency gains that we believe will help propel flash storage technology into the enterprise mainstream.”


Pliant’s EFD storage solution is based on a new and advanced controller design and software architecture, and will integrate seamlessly into
existing enterprise information systems. Delivering exponential
improvements over today’s highest performing hard drive and SSD storage solutions for a range of data I/O intensive enterprise applications, Pliant’s solution is expected to be available to OEM and data center customers in the fourth quarter of 2008.


About Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed is a leading venture capital firm based in Menlo Park that focuses on early-stage IT- and energy-related investments. Lightspeed manages $1.3B of committed capital with investments in the US, Asia and Israel, and closed Lightspeed VII, a $480M fund, at the end of 2005. Our firm’s partners have invested in more than 120 companies over the past two decades and have contributed to the success of market leaders and innovators including Blue Nile, Brocade, Ciena, DoubleClick, Ehealthinsurance, Galileo Technology, Growth Networks, Informatica, Kiva Software, LightLogic, Maker Communications, Metasolv,, Quantum Effect Devices, Riverbed Technology (the top-performing tech IPO of 2006), Sirocco, Transmeta, Virsa (the top software M&A deal of 2006) and Waveset.


About Pliant Technology


Pliant Technology is developing Enterprise Flash Drives (EFD’s), a new class of solid state storage devices, that integrate seamlessly into enterprise information systems and dramatically improve performance, reliability, energy efficiency, and TCO. The company was founded by a team of successful storage executives and engineers from Fujitsu, Maxtor, Quantum, and Seagate. Pliant is based in Milpitas, Calif., and is available on the Web at