Isilon Systems has signed up some of the biggest names in media to use its computer storage systems. But attracting other industries has...

Share story

Isilon Systems has signed up some of the biggest names in media to use its computer storage systems.

But attracting other industries has proved a little more difficult for the Seattle company, said Steve Goldman, Isilon’s president and chief executive.

Media and entertainment companies often adopt new technologies early, but it’s been rougher with, for instance, oil-and-gas or life-sciences companies.

“The issue has been getting invited to the party,” Goldman said.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks

With the announcement today that Isilon has raised $20 million in venture capital, Goldman hopes to strengthen sales and marketing and win more party invitations.

Isilon Systems builds storage systems with special software designed for companies that save large files, including digital images and other media formats.

Customers include Kodak EasyShare Gallery, LexisNexis, Corbis and Sports Illustrated.

Other customers such as the oncology department at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles are warming up to it, because a single drop of blood can produce a 60-gigabyte digital file, Goldman said.

A three-box cluster of Isilon’s storage system can hold 14.4 terabytes of data (a terabyte is 1 trillion bytes of data). The system can be expanded to hold up to 168 terabytes in a single network drive.

Founded in 2001, Isilon has raised $59.9 million to date. The current round the company’s fourth — was led by Focus Ventures. Existing investors Lehman Brothers Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, Atlas Venture and Madrona Venture Group also participated.

The round will be used to expand the sales team. Besides going into different markets, Isilon is expanding internationally into Japan and other countries and is working with more partners.

“We are trying to take advantage of our technology side and expand on sales,” said Matt McIlwain, a managing director at Madrona.

The change may be a sign Isilon has reached a point of maturity.

The privately held company declined to disclose specifics about its financial performance. But it said revenues have quadrupled in the past year, its employee base has doubled to 130, the number of products developed has tripled, and its customer base has doubled.

In all, the company has sold nearly 2 petabytes, or 2,000 terabytes, of storage systems.

For context, the minimum purchase of a system is $50,000, the average sale is $125,000 and 52 percent of new customers purchase more products within six months.

Goldman attributes the growth to three factors:

• The amount of digital data is increasing, as is the size of individual files.

• More information is being stored, as different formats — online, television and high-definition television — catch on.

• The storage industry is moving toward a clustered system. This allows a company to buy more space and capacity as it grows, rather than guessing ahead of time how much it will need. Isilon’s software connects storage boxes together to act as one huge system.

Goldman expects this round of capital to move the company to profitability, then perhaps to a public offering.

“This is a step in the direction of profitability, which is part of our road map. We are right on path,” Goldman said.

Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or