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Actifio helps push the easy button for data management

October 11, 2012

Waltham-based Actifio Inc. is trying at least two things that 3-year-old companies rarely think of doing: marketing a service in an unsexy business area as a “pleasure to use,” and talking about an IPO as an almost certain destiny for the firm.

“We definitely are setting the stage for creating a category company — creating a publicly held company that can drive this category,” said Ash Ashutosh, founder and CEO of the firm, which offers cloud-based data management, disaster recovery and backup services.

Founded in 2009, Actifio aims to cut data management costs by up to 90 percent while bringing an “Apple-like simplicity” to the process, Ashutosh said. The service revolves around drastically reducing the number of copies a company needs to make of its data, while ensuring the data is still accessible and protected.

The ultimate result: Companies that previously needed an array of software and storage hardware, along with specialized staff to run it all, can now just use Actifio, Ashutosh said. The platform, which the company dubs “protection and availability storage,” typically replaces between five and 13 different products being used at a company, he said.

“For a change, IT is actually a pleasure to be in,” said Ashutosh, formerly the founder of AppIQ, a Burlington data storage firm that was bought by Hewlett-Packard in 2005.

With customers such as Boston University Medical Center and Airvana Inc. — and deals that averaged $250,000 in the first quarter — Actifio expects to see more than $30 million in revenue this year, tripling what it received in 2010. The company expects to be profitable by the second quarter of 2013, and to file the company’s IPO intentions in the third or fourth quarter of 2013.

Actifio closed a $33 million Series B round in December led by prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, a backer of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.Peter Levine, the general partner at Andreessen Horowitz who led the Actifio deal, said he and his firm backed the company out of a belief that Actifio will be able to “dominate a large segment of the backup and storage space.”

As for the goal of going public, Levine said his firm is “fully supportive of what the management team and what Ash wants to do.”

Ashutosh said the company has already undertaken global expansion in preparation for making Actifio IPO-ready, growing from a staff of 50 in December to 120 now, with half in Waltham and the rest worldwide. More than a fourth of the company’s revenue is coming from Europe, for instance, he said.

“I think we found that this market opportunity is across the globe, everybody has this problem,” Ashutosh said. “It is huge. And if we are going to go build a public company, let’s build a public company. Let’s not just take one step at a time. Let’s just go big.”

Money is far down the list of reasons for wanting to be publicly held, Ashutosh notes. Many enterprises want to buy IT services from vendors that have a high degree of credibility and survivability, and “the benchmark for that is whether you’re a public company,” he said.

“That is the sole reason for us to think about driving toward being a public company,” said Ashutosh, who said he wants Actifio to achieve a $100 million run rate before it actually completes an IPO. “It’s absolutely a way to meet a market requirement — to be relevant, you need to be public.”

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