October 6, 2015

IBM acquires Cleversafe

IBM (www.ibm.com | NYSE:IBM), the IT giant leader, just announced the definitive agreement to acquire Cleversafe (www.cleversafe.com) the pioneer and obvious leader of Object Storage. The amount is not public but we can clearly imagine the price in the $600-800M range. I should say below that range, I would be disappointed for the investors and leadership teams. For IBM, this is a fantastic news, the giant from Armonk was completely naked on this segment with real difficulties to articulate a solution that the market can believe in.
Cleversafe is very well respected and synonymous of quality and leadership. When Cleversafe releases a product, delivers a solution or deploys an environment, it simply works and the result is amazing. Cleversafe will be integrated to the IBM Cloud business unit to promote on-premise and hybrid cloud deployment models.
It's a surprise, Cleversafe raised more than $100M and seems to be strong enough to continue its life independent. As usual, it's a question of amount and we can understand founders and VCs wish to find a exit after more than 10 years. Cleversafe is not a startup, did not an IPO so we believe they wish to avoid the zombie syndrome. An other way to see this is the difficulty to build a large company, meaning a multi-billion software company on object storage. It's clearly not possible, people who thinks this are crazy, outside of the market and the reality. But you know Hope could meet Utopia. In fact, the reality is simple, the market is clearly not there and pressure from Open Source and Cloud operators are 2 key elements to consider. Now, it will be interesting to see who else will be acquired ? Historically, we had Bycast acquired by NetApp in April 2010, Inktank by Red Hat for $175M in April 2014, Amplidata by HGST in March 2015 and now Cleversafe by IBM in October 2015. If you remember carefully what I pushed for many years: "The first object storage vendor acquisition will trigger a wave of acquisition and the too ambitious, pretentious and greedy players will miss the boat..."
Finally, Chris, I would like to personnaly congratulate you, your teams and Cleversafe for the contribution to the industry. Without Cleversafe serving as a reference for many object storage vendors, this segment would not have grown like this. Bravo!!

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