Backupify Brings In $9M More from Symantec & VCs, Fends Off Acquirers

7/11/12Follow @gthuang

An old-school tech company in a new-school world. That’s what I’d call Backupify. The Cambridge, MA-based startup sits squarely at the intersection of cloud computing, data management, online backup, and now, security. Its big market opportunity is in the cloud—backing up data from business apps and social media— but its culture is firmly rooted in having both feet on the ground.

First, the news today. Backupify has raised a $9 million Series C round from previous investors Avalon Ventures and General Catalyst Partners, but the round also includes a significant investment from Symantec, the Silicon Valley security software firm (NASDAQ: SYMC). Backupify has now raised a total of $19.5 million and has 31 employees.

What’s interesting is its trajectory. The company started in 2008 as a service for consumers to back up e-mail and social media (Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and so forth). In 2010, Rob May, Backupify’s co-founder and CEO, moved the company from Louisville, KY, to Boston after raising money from Boston-area investors. Around the same time, the startup moved into targeting small and medium-size businesses to help them back up Google Apps data. Now, in the past year or so, Backupify has become more enterprise-y, offering software to back up Salesforce.com data, for example. The startup has more than 30 business customers that have over 1,000 employees, says May (pictured above).

Backupify also has been fending off some acquisition offers. May won’t say from whom, of course, but I’m guessing his price is too high. With its latest financing round, Backupify is probably looking for a triple-digit-millions exit from here on out. Pure speculation on my part, but it wouldn’t surprise me if EMC, Dell, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce.com, and Carbonite are among the public companies tracking the startup’s whereabouts.

Symantec’s new investment is interesting, too. The security company, best known for its anti-virus and data protection products, is clearly thinking about what its business will look like as more data moves to the cloud. Symantec also might be a potential acquirer down the road; in the meantime it seems possible that the company could work together with Backupify on new products.

May declined to comment on any such partnership beyond the funding news. For now, he seems focused on the nuts and bolts of building his company. Things like balancing revenue growth with spending money (and then needing to raise more money). Hiring more sales people and more engineering staff. Managing the startup’s culture, communications, and long-term vision. And putting an operational structure in place to take the company to $10 million in annual revenue. (He didn’t say where it is now, but I’d guess a few million.)

A quick aside to delve a little deeper into May’s psyche. He tells people not to read too many tech blogs. He is wary of the Web-and-social-media echo chamber. He runs Backupify like it’s the last good idea he’ll have in his life. He used to be a hardware engineer; he’s currently doing software as a service; but he also thinks about things like the future of bioengineering, robotics, and healthcare. He’s not your typical tech startup CEO and, frankly, Boston suits him well because of its breadth of innovation clusters.

All of that adds up to an interesting culture being built at Backupify. May highlights a couple of senior hires who have brought more “operational discipline” to the company in the past half year. They are Rob Stevens, formerly of Kiva Systems (acquired by Amazon), on the sales and marketing side, and David Block, formerly of Lotus and ChoiceStream, on the engineering side.

Of course, culture and discipline are great, but sales are what will make or break Backupify. To that end, May is thinking hard about which markets to play in and what the product mix should look like down the road. One example: the company might move into file-based systems to back up data from Box and Dropbox.

Whatever Backupify does next, it seems anchored in May’s vision of cloud-based data becoming more prevalent in business. “This is not a feature,” he says. “This is the next incarnation of backup.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.