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All-flash array fettler Pure Storage: Snowball, sueballs and... an IPO?

Source tells El Reg that startup is preparing to float

Out of the blue we have heard that Pure Storage is making groundwork preparations for an IPO.

The information came from a Silicon Valley source and chimes with the company saying recently its annual revenue run rate is at the IPO-level, taken to mean $100 million.

All-flash array fettler Pure says it is growing fast, although it is currently embroiled in a legal battle with EMC. The storage giant has alleged that Pure poached its staff and used proprietary information. Pure has smacked back with a counterclaim alleging EMC had pinched one if its systems - purportedly in order to inspect its deduplicating all-flash array technology, according to the filing.

EMC launched its own XtremIO all-flash array last year and needs this to be taken up by its enterprise customer base in preference to startup Pure's own Pure System array.

Asked about IPO preparations, a Pure spokesperson said: "The quick answer is that an IPO is not imminent and there's no time line set at this point."

El Reg storage desk would imagine that Pure will want to avoid the PIPOD syndrome (post-IPO droop) exhibited by Fusion-io and Violin Memory, in which revenues do not grow fast enough or outgrow losses after the IPO. We're all watching to see what happens to hybrid array supplier Nimble Storage after its recent IPO in that regard.

At this point in time, Pure's future business is full of potential but full competition has not been joined in the all-flash array space as:

  • Mainstream competitors like Dell, EMC, HDS, HP, IBM and NetApp are only just coming up to speed.
  • Startup Whiptail has been bought by Cisco and its technology directions and business potential are under wraps at the moment.
  • Kaminario has the performance high ground niche with its K2 product line.
  • Skyera is full of technology potential but its business results have yet to reflect it.
  • Fusion-io's ioControl technology has yet to prove itself in the market.

Should Pure run an IPO before mainstream competitors, the biggest competitive threat, get their asses in gear, or should it wait until it has shown it can whup their asses and then go public? And would it dare to make a move with all these lawsuits going on?

We think the key will be whether an IPO would aid its survival and growth against its main rival, EMC. When will it pull the trigger? Our guess is not before the second half of this year when the results of two quarters of EMC competitive onslaught will have been assessed. Look for an IPO in early 2015. ®

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