$415 Million Strategic Exit for NJ Startup Whiptail

Photo: Dan Crain, CEO of Whiptail. Photo Credit: Whiptail
Dan Crain, CEO of Whiptail. | Whiptail

Whippany startup Whiptail grabbed the gold ring Sept. 10, 2013 as Cisco announced its intention to acquire the company for approximately $415 million in cash and retention-based incentives in exchange for all shares.

The company was founded in 2009 in New Jersey by James Candelaria, the company’s CTO, who, while an IT consultant for Fortune 100 companies in the New York metro area, developed a solution for clients who expressed frustration with existing data center technologies.

Eventually Whiptail, with Candelaria in the tech role and Dan Crain at the helm, developed a line of high performance, scalable solid-state memory systems that enable organizations to simplify data center and virtualized environments and process more data in less time.

The products included a data acceleration software layer, which made them unique. In fact, at one time, Whiptail’s products were considered speculative and disruptive, when terabyte sized solid-state flash drives were considered exotic and there were only a few competitors in the field.

A scant four years later, the company is being acquired by Cisco. A blog post by Hilton Romanski, head of business development, Cisco explains the acquisition:

“By making this acquisition, Cisco is enhancing the Unified Computing System (UCS) by bringing solid-state memory acceleration into the compute tier as a managed subsystem.” 

“Whiptail is a perfect architectural fit for UCS because together the two combine a clustered architecture with fabric-based acceleration – all of which is automatable via the UCS Manager and UCS Director. The end result is to deliver optimized performance on top of UCS for emerging and business critical applications, such as [virtualization], Big Data, database, High Performance Computing and transcoding workloads.”

Whiptail had previously partnered with Cisco and in June, 2013 announced it had achieved interoperability with Cisco’s UCS and had begun to work cooperatively with Cisco to address the needs of joint customers.

Last year (December, 2012) the venture-backed company had received $31 million in investments from several investors, including strategic investments from the flash memory leader SanDisk and “an unnamed Silicon Valley industry titan,” which now appears to be Cisco.

NJTechWeekly.com covered Whiptail in January of 2012 after the company had received more than $10 million in financing from New York venture capital firm RRE Ventures, which led the round, with Ignition Partners (Bellevue, Wash.) and Spring Mountain Capital (New York) participating. At that time CEO Dan Crain had reiterated his commitment to New Jersey.

The question of whether Whiptail will remain in New Jersey is unsettled. In a statement Cisco said, “Upon completion of the acquisition, Whiptail employees will be integrated into the Computing Systems Product Group led by Paul Perez, vice president and general manager,” but makes no reference to where the acquired company will operate.

 “The acquisition of Whiptail is expected to be complete in the first quarter of fiscal year 2014,” Cisco said in a release.

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