Storage Soup

Jan 16 2013   7:17PM GMT

Cloud startup Symform wants to build foundation with real estate funding

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii

When startups raise funding, contributors often include strategic investors who hope to benefit from the technology the new company develops. Storage startups usually turn to technology industry giants for strategic investments.

Cloud storage startup Symform is going in a different direction. Symform today said it received a $3 million strategic investment from Second Century Ventures (SCV), a venture capital fund of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The Seattle-based Symform’s cloud consists of local drive space contributed by its subscribers. So maybe you can say it’s in the realtor business because it sells real estate on customers’ storage.

But the real estate trade association didn’t fund Symform because it considers it a kindred spirit. NAR will make Symform subscriptions available to its 1.1 million members as a membership benefit. The realtors add cloud backup, and Symform adds to its subscription base.

Symform bills itself as a crowd-sourced cloud network. Organizations join the network by contributing extra local drive space in exchange for fast and secure backup. Besides providing backup, the network also synchronizes data from any device.

“We see ourselves as the Skype of data storage,” Symform CEO Matthew Schiltz said.

The startup’s technology encrypts data 256-bit AES. It breaks data into 64 MB blocks, divides each block into 64 1 MB fragments, and randomly distributes them across separate devices in the Symform cloud storage network. The architecture regenerates and redistributes missing fragments even when devices fail, according to Symform technical documents.

The technology is integrated with NAS storage devices from Synology, Netgear and QNAP. The company claims it has active users in 138 countries, up from 46 at the end of 2011. It also claims more than 7 billion fragments now are stored in the Symform cloud.

The $3 million is officially part of an $11 million Series B funding round Symform announced last April. It initially raised $1.5 million in seed money, so the company has raised total of $20 million in funding. Its previous investors include Longworth Venture Partners, OVP Venture Partners and WestRiver Capital.

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