Money, money: Box, others bask in hot VC market

As the VC market heats up, cloud, big data and app dev are hot investment areas

venture capital

Recent investments by venture capitalists in cloud, big data and converged infrastructure companies show not only the healthy interest among financiers to back next-generation technologies, but provide a preview of what technologies from startups today could be mainstream in tomorrow's IT world.

The hot VC market is touching big-name companies and small startups. News surfaced today that cloud storage company Box has secured a $100 million venture investment, bringing the total valuation of the company past $2 billion. Rival DropBox is said to be looking for up to $250 million in funding.

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In the last week three companies with less brand presence each received additional funding too, including: cloud application development platform company Apprenda got a $16 million infusion; converged infrastructure firm Simplivity raked in a whopping $56 million; and young business intelligence startup BIME pulled in $4 million in a series A round.

All this activity reflects a healthy market for VC funding. The third quarter of 2013 that just recently ended was the most lucrative for VC deals since the second quarter of 2011, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association’s quarterly MoneyTree report. The third quarter saw $7.8 billion invested by VCs in 1,005 deals, up 12% compared to the second quarter. The software industry led all sectors with more than $3 billion invested last quarter alone.

Here’s a deeper dive on some of the companies that recently received funding:

Box

Box is a poster child for cloud computing, offering what it calls business-grade cloud storage. The company has reportedly just secured another $100 million investment, which follows up on $125 million in raised last year and another $25 million it brought in earlier this year, according to TechCrunch.

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Apprenda

Apprenda is an application development platform as a service (PaaS), focused on on-premises deployments for companies creating applications. The company initially focused on .Net applications, but at the beginning of this year expanded to support the Java programming language, giving it broader appeal beyond just the Windows community.

Apprenda says it has seen strong adoption in the financial services industry, listing JP Morgan Chase as a reference customer and saying the firm has built 3,000 apps using Apprenda’s platform. The company secured a $16 million series C round led by Safeguard Scientifics, with participation from existing investors Ignition Partners and New Enterprise Associates, bringing its total investment thus far to $32 million.

Simplivity

A growing trend in the IT industry is the idea of converged infrastructure, which is a single system that combines compute, network and storage into a single platform. Simplivity does that, and more. It not only provides those services, but virtualizes them all and provides deduplication, compression, and federation of data across a distributed system. The company emerged from stealth last year and won Gold for best in show at VMworld this year for its flagship OmniCube product. The $58 million C round was led by existing investor Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) Growth and DFJ Growth, who were joined by Meritech Capital Partners and Swisscom Ventures, as well as existing investors Accel and Charles River Ventures.

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BIME

This French 2009 startup recently opened its first U.S. offices in Kansas City and it’s looking to take the big data market by storm. The company claims to be the first to provide front-end visualizations based on data analysis from Google’s BigQuery data analytics tool. BIME provides hosted analysis, visualization and dashboarding of data from a variety of sources including documents, spreadsheets, databases and cloud services like Dropbox, Google Analytics, Vectorwise, Amazon Redshift, SAP HANA and Salesforce.com. It uses compression to fit data in-memory and automatically scales compute resources. This early funding round was led by Alven Capital Partners in Paris.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. Read his Cloud Chronicles here.  

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