Primary Data Enters Failed Startup Hall Of Fame

Another startup bites the dust. Despite raising $100 million in equity, Primary Data, a four-year-old data virtualization startup, is in the process of shutting down.

While the company had such heavy hitters as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on its management team – as well as investors such as Accel Partners, Battery Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Pelion Venture Partners – the California-based startup’s technology has simply failed to live up to its potential.

The company and its investors declined to comment, but a source close to the situation spoke directly to TechCrunch.

Primary Data’s team had everything going for them. After launching Fusion-io, a flash storage company that had a successful IPO in 2011, co-founders David Flynn and Rick White left in 2013. Investors promptly handed them $50 million to come up with their next big idea, which turned out to be Primary Data.

The duo hired longtime colleague Lance Smith as the company’s new CEO in 2014. But despite implementing changes to curb spending – especially important given that the company wasn’t bringing in any revenue – he couldn’t get big companies to buy Primary Data’s tech. Even the acquisition of Israel-based data storage company Tonian and a new version of Primary Data’s software that was rolled out in August couldn’t entice Fortune 500 companies to sign on.

In an email, Wozniak said he wasn’t aware that Primary Data was shutting down, and pledged that he is still “a part of Primary Data and would do whatever I could, even without salary, to help them.”

If “PD shuts down,” he wrote, “it’s very sad because of how much good technology has been developed by them for so long.”

Primary Data isn’t the only data virtualization company to have difficulties. Cisco recently unloaded its data virtualization business, saying it was “not aligned” with the company’s long-term focus.


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