Server maker Verari sparks back into life
Equity-backed founder retakes the helm
Say goodbye to Verari Systems, and say hello to Verari Technologies.
As El Reg has been chronicling, the boutique blade server and storage maker and provider of containerized data centers hit the financial rocks in early December 2009 and after a few weeks of pondering the options, the handful of top brass left at the firm - who had been brought in by outside equity backers in Verari - put the company's assets up for sale in early January.
The bids were collected on January 7, and wouldn't you know it, Dave Driggers, the original founder of Verari Systems who was working as its chief technology officer up until the day he was fired (along with most of the other employees at the company) has emerged with "substantially all of the assets" of the original Verari Systems and is now leading the new Verari Technologies.
Driggers is not yet talking to the press about his plans for reinvigorating Verari in terms of products and personnel or about who his financial backers are, but is expected to chat with El Reg once he settles in. The company has not divulged what Driggers' title is yet, but Verari's updated executive pages show that Driggers is chairman and chief executive officer, with Jerry Loe as executive vice president of field operations, Victor Tung as vice president of engineering, and Paul Mecucci as vice president of sales operations.
There had been some rumors going around that server rival Cisco Systems, which had partnered with the old Verari to use its Forrest containerized data center to deploy Cisco's "California" Unified Computing System blade servers at the NASA Ames research center as part of its Nebula cloud platform, was in the process of buying up the container biz, but all of the intellectual property and inventory relating to the container data centers remains with Verari Technologies.
That new company has all of the intellectual property relating to BladeRack2 servers and storage (including its patented vertical cooling technology), and Driggers' backers shelled out enough dough for Verari Technologies to buy all of the company's manufacturing and engineering equipment and its product inventories. It is not at this point clear what assets of Verari Systems the new Verari Technologies was not able to acquire. The terms of the acquisition and the number of entities chasing the assets were not divulged.
The idea behind the new server company is an oldie but a goodie: get back to basics.
"We have the opportunity to go back to our roots of being a consulting company that heavily partners to deliver custom solutions for our customers," Driggers said in a statement announcing the revived company. "The 'new Verari' is going to build stronger partnerships with our customers while delivering the solutions they require. I'm a strong believer that companies are more successful when they listen and collaborate with their customers."
Verari was founded in 1996 in San Diego as a computer parts retailer and in 2002 changed its name to RackSaver and started building its own rack-mounted servers. In 2004, the company invented vertical cooling for its racks and bought a company called MPI Software for its management tools, pocketed some venture capital, and changed its name to Verari Systems.
The company brought in three rounds of venture funding totaling $54.2m from Sierra Ventures, Voyager Capital, Celerity Partners, Carlyle Group, and an unnamed "strategic investor," the latter of which participated in the third round in June 2007. That was when David Wright, an executive from EMC who had been brought in as CEO a year earlier was given the job of chairman, pushing Driggers aside and relegating him to the chief technology officer position and a member of the board.
The original Verari Systems was privately held and did not divulge its financials, but in November 2008 Driggers told El Reg that the company had sales in excess of $100m. It is very unlikely that this sales rate held in 2009, but with focus and determination, it is quite possible that the new Verari Technologies could get back there again.
Technology licensing seems to be one area that Driggers is excited about, and presumably his backers are as well.
"You're going to see a concerted effort on our part to license and promote these unique technologies," Driggers said in his statement, referring to the vertical cooling and DC power distribution used in the BladeRack2 and Forest containerized data centers. "With the ever increasing compute and storage issues our customers are facing today, I believe we are going to be well positioned to help them solve even the most demanding challenges."
There is no word yet on how many of the former Verari employees will be offered jobs. Verari never confirmed these numbers, but the whispers going around as the original Verari was sliding toward financial oblivion had it that the company peaked at around 300 employees before the economic meltdown and had around 225 employees prior to the December 11 layoffs. All but a few dozen key employees for supporting customers and the top brass (Wright and Dan Gatti, senior vice president of marketing at the earlier Verari) working on the asset sale were let go back in December.
A number of HPC rivals started offering support for Verari Systems' products and hiring former employees. Silicon Graphics offered tech support for Verari products (for a fee, of course) in the wake of the layoffs, and said last week that it had hired Vincent Scarpulla, formerly vice president of worldwide field operations at Verari and an ex-EMCer as Wright was, to head up SGI's sales in the Americas region. ®