Cisco a mystery investor in storage company?

Post states that “unnamed Silicon Valley industry titan” funding Whiptail ain't the food distributor

TechCrunch is reporting that Cisco is the mysterious "unnamed Silicon Valley industry titan" that contributed to a $31 million funding round for Whiptail, a flash storage array company. Cisco's total investment was not available and Cisco executives did not respond to TechCrunch's request for comment.

Even TechCrunch's source would not identify Cisco as the Silicon Valley titan investing in Whiptail. But the source said the mystery investor has one of the largest market caps in the Valley, and its name is similar to food distributor Sysco.

Hmmm, that might narrow it down a little bit...

If indeed it is Cisco - which is already a strategic partner with Whiptail -- TechCrunch calls its secrecy "laughable." Keeping a low profile is one thing; but the company has a famously strained relationship with longtime storage partner EMC following EMC/VMware's $1.26 billion acquisition of network virtualization startup Nicira, and EMC getting into bed with server company Lenovo.  TechCrunch goes so far as to say the VCE partnership between Cisco, EMC and VMware is "falling apart."

So the investment in Whiptail, which makes storage appliances designed to be more efficient than legacy arrays and hard disk drives, would be very strategic for Cisco as its alliance with EMC fractures.  It might help fill a storage piece in the converging server/networking/storage IT stack for Cisco as EMC moves further away.

Whiptail's Series C funding round also includes investments from Ignition Partners, RRE Ventures, Spring Mountain Capital and SanDisk, a leader in the flash market. SanDisk's investment in Whiptail was made through its $75 million SanDisk Ventures strategic investment arm, TechCrunch notes.

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