High Flying NJ Data-Protection Startup OwnBackup Achieves Unicorn Status

Word came last week that OwnBackup, the Englewood Cliffs-based cloud data protection company, closed a Series D investment of $167.5 million after just closing on $50 million six months ago. (See our story here).

The investment brought OwnBackup’s cumulative funding total to more than $267 million.

More importantly, with this raise, OwnBackup is valued at close to $1.4 billion. That brings OwnBackup up to unicorn status.

A unicorn is a startup that has grown to be valued at over $1 billion. Unicorns aren’t as rare as they once were. According to CB Insights, a tech-market intelligence platform, there are more than 500 of these companies in the world.

The new funding round was co-led by Insight Partners (New York), Salesforce Ventures (San Francisco), and Sapphire Ventures (Palo Alto, Calif.), with participation from existing investors Innovation Endeavors (Palo Alto), Vertex Ventures (Palo Alto) and Oryzn Capital (Tel Aviv).

We spoke to Sam Gutmann, OwnBackup’s CEO, about the recent funding round.

Of the leading investors, Sapphire Ventures was new to the deal. Gutmann stated that he was extremely excited to have Sapphire, which was known as “SAP Ventures” back in the day, because it’s “now behind some of the hottest unicorns and recent tech IPOs.”

OwnBackup’s biggest investor, Insight Partners, stepped up once again in a big way, he added, and it was really important to have Salesforce Ventures, which has been with OwnBackup since the beginning.

Salesforce Ventures has invested in a number of successful startups, such as MongoDB, Twilio, Box, DocuSign and Zoom. Observers have noted that the gains from Salesforce Ventures investments have often exceeded the gains from the company’s core software business. It is also worth mentioning that OwnBackup is on the Salesforce AppExchange, and that it’s rare to see a unicorn originating from there.

OwnBackup has experienced five years of triple-digit growth, but Gutmann was clear about the challenges ahead. NJTechWeekly.com asked him if he felt any pressure, now that the company has achieved unicorn status. He joked that the biggest pressure was that many were expecting OwnBackup to get to “decacorn” status quickly.  

Phenomenal 2020

Becoming serious, he said, “We’re really excited. We had a phenomenal 2020 from a business perspective, and we beat our pre-COVID plan by a good, good chunk. And we see that momentum continuing into this year and beyond. So, while we certainly have a ton of work to do, and growing a business from 300 employees to 600 employees is certainly a tall order, the business is there and the customer base is there. And it’s going to be a lot of hard work, but we think it’s definitely doable.”

Fueling the company’s momentum are bigger trends in the industry, he noted. “We saw in the business in a broader sense that COVID forced many companies to accelerate their digital transformation projects. And as they were forced to do that, some of the controls they had in place — whether it be that you could only access the system from the office, or the development team had all kinds of in-person meetings — went away. Our customers were forced to accelerate what they were doing, and it all became much riskier.” So, having OwnBackup in place allowed them to accelerate their projects with peace of mind at night, he said. “They said, ‘Hey, if something goes wrong, I can easily put the pieces back together.’”

When NJTechWeekly.com had spoken to Gutmann after the prior fundraising round, he noted that the company had software expansion plans that would see it going after backup businesses in other cloud environments besides Salesforce. “To date, we’ve been exclusively focused within the Salesforce ecosystem, which is huge. But as we realize the vision and look at other clouds, we really see an IPO-sized entity ahead of us,” he told us then.

In our recent talk with Gutmann, he said, “For a very short amount of time we stopped our expansion plans on the hiring front. But as we got through March and April and May, we ramped that right back up, so that plan has remained the same. We’re probably a quarter or two behind where we thought we’d be in the beginning of the year. Again, we wanted to make sure business would persist through the worst part of COVID, and it has. But stay tuned. A little later in the year,” there will be some announcements. “We are actively working on this.”

Regarding his commitment to New Jersey, Gutmann said that the company’s hiring plans include many new employees in the Garden State, though “we don’t know what the future holds with working from home versus coming back.” He added that OwnBackup was “one of the rare cases where we’ve actually expanded our office. We’re doubling the size of our physical footprint here in New Jersey. And I’m very excited about that. You know, firstly, we want to create an environment that people want to come back to, but we’re not forcing anyone to come back.”

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