IBM Joins Nvidia As Strategic Investor In Cohesity

Data protection and security technology developer Cohesity this week said that IT giant IBM has joined GPU and AI technology heavyweight Nvidia as strategic investors in the company’s latest round of funding.

With the closing this week of Cohesity’s Series F round of funding, parts of which had been unveiled earlier, including Nvidia’s investment in March, IBM and Nvidia join Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Cisco, Amazon, Google, and Qualcomm as strategic investors in the company.

The March investment by Nvidia and the April investment by IBM both follow Cohesity’s February announced plans to acquire data protection software heavyweight Veritas in a deal valued at $3 billion.

[Related: Cohesity CEO On Plan To Buy Veritas Unit: ‘We Now Have The Scale And Speed’ To Meet Enterprise Data Needs]

Cohesity declined to provide specifics in terms of how much IBM or any other strategic investor invested in Cohesity.ADVERTISEMENT

Cohesity closed a Series E funding round worth $250 million in April of 2020. At the time, that brought the total invested in the company to over $650 million, and gave San Jose, Calif.-based Cohesity a total valuation of $2.5 billion. Cohesity in early 2021 said that it had a valuation of $3.7 billion.

Cohesity declined to discuss the total raised in its Series F round or its current valuation.

Cohesity CEO Sanjay Poonen (pictured) told CRN that every tech company which invests in Cohesity also wants to partner with the company.

“It’s, ‘We’re not just putting money behind you. We want to have strategic partnerships with you,’” he said. “Nvidia a few weeks ago announced a strategic partnership, the only data protection company that they’re doing generative AI with. That’s a very unique position. And they’re also investing in us. That’s a double win for us.”

IBM, meanwhile, is exclusively OEMing Cohesity’s technology to modernize what used to be known as Tivoli Spectrum Protect and is now known as IBM Storage Defender, Poonen said.

“Underneath the covers, Storage Defender is really Cohesity,” he said. “That’s an exclusive OEM with us. They’re not OEMing anybody else. They looked at all the players in the market. Very good players: Veeam, Rubrik, Commvault. And they decided the best technology platform was Cohesity.”

The IBM partnership was built in part on personal relationships Poonen said he has with multiple IBM executives, including with IBM CEO Arvind Krishna.

“Let me tell you a short story,” he said. “When I was at SAP, we did a lot of work with IBM Db2. The person running the Db2 business was Arvind Krishna, who’s now the CEO at IBM. When I was at VMware, we did a lot of work with software and the IBM Cloud. The person running that business was Arvind Krishna. So we’ve built a good relationship with IBM of trust as many of us worked with them before.”

However, Poonen said, IBM also did its own technology analysis and talked with customers before signing its OEM agreement with Cohesity and investing in the company.

“Many of the largest customers in the world were telling IBM that they were going with Cohesity, including some of the biggest banks and largest companies,” he said. “We have 44 percent of the Fortune 100 today. Cohesity with Veritas will be in 96 percent. Nobody in this space has that level of Fortune 100 concentration. These are the same types of companies that IBM talks to. These companies were telling IBM the best tech platform, bar none, is Cohesity.”

Tech giants like Amazon, Google, HPE, Cisco, Qualcomm, and now Nvidia and IBM want to support Cohesity, Poonen said.

“They want to see us be successful,” he said. “So we see it as a tremendous show of support to have [them] as investors in this company. That’s the largest set of tech companies that has invested in anybody in the data protection space. We’re not raising infinite amounts of money, but there may be more companies interested in backing us, and we’re very excited. And for each of them, the recipe is, ‘We want not just your money. It’s great that you are investing in us. We want a strategic partnership with you.’ It doesn’t have to be exclusive. In the case of IBM, it’s an exclusive relationship right now.”

Poonen said IBM has an incredible brand and international reach that will help Cohesity grow.

“They have a reach in the international markets which we don’t, as a standalone company, and which we may not even have as a combination of Cohesity and Veritas,” he said. “So we’re excited about this. We’re a very channel-friendly company. This is an example of a channel partnership done well. I’m very proud that Cohesity has the best ecosystem. Our ecosystem is the envy of every other data protection vendor.”

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