David Friend and Jeff Flowers are the definition of serial entrepreneurs. Having founded and exited five successful companies together over two plus decades, the duo have a love for the process of building companies and taking on market leaders.
“My undergraduate degree was in music composition, but early on it was evident I wasn’t going to make a living as a composer,” Friend says of his previous interests. “But I have found that starting companies gives me that same sense of satisfaction. You start with a blank page and fill in the notes. A year later, your vision comes to life.”
Their last company, Carbonite, went public back in 2011 and was one of the early companies which made backing up files to the cloud an easy process. Both Friend and Flowers remain on the Board of Directors at Carbonite, but the tandem entrepreneurs are taking the wraps off of their next company.
Initially, the company was known as BlueArchive, a pseudonym which served as a decoy. After a 3 month process of trying out 200 different names, they landed on Wasabi. “We chose Wasabi because what we are doing is hot,” Friend says of the branding. “It’s a word that’s known around the world.”
Launching today, Wasabi is a “hot” storage company which claims to be six times faster and one-fifth the cost of Amazon S3. Friend and Flowers’ new company is entering the crowded space of cloud storage, where they will be competing against tech giants like Amazon, Google and Microsoft. However, the duo is not afraid to take on the incumbents, as they see a massive opportunity in this space.
Friend believes data storage is getting to a point where it's becoming commoditized. He compared it to how the market for long distance telephone services evolved; AT&T was the dominant long distance provider, and then MCI came along and cut the prices in half. These events ultimately started the process of making long distance a commoditized service.
The two founders wanted to make cloud storage more along the lines of a household utility. “My vision for cloud storage is that it will become like electricity,” the veteran entrepreneur says. “It will be one-size-fits-all.”
A key benefit for Wasabi, as compared to its competitors, is the ability to start fresh with a next generation cloud storage architecture. “Amazon is so big and at some point the scale works against you,” Friend says, referring to the challenges and the extraordinary costs associated with retooling and building out a new architecture for one of the large data storage providers.
As the amount of data continues to grow and grow, the costs and performance for data storage starts to become limiting factors for many. However, Wasabi opens up a whole new wave of innovation. It’s a game changer for scientists who have endless amounts of data or police departments who are looking for an affordable way to store the files from body cameras.
Aside from offering faster and cheaper storage, Wasabi has a major feature not offered by its competitors; the ability to make data indestructible by using its immutable buckets feature. This feature was created after Friend noticed, from his extensive background in the industry, how data was lost or deleted. “People don’t lose information because of a data center error,” Friend says. “It’s always something else. It’s maliciousness, a virus, or a human error where someone might accidentally overwrite files.” Wasabi will give its customers the peace of mind that you won’t lose critical data. Plus, you’ll be able to create policies where you can decide how long data will keeps its immutable status.
Currently, Wasabi’s team includes 18 employees and many are alumni from Carbonite. The company has received $8.5 million in funding from individuals such as Desh Deshpande (founder of Sycamore Networks), Bill Sahlman (Harvard Business School professor), Ron Skates (former CEO of Data General), Jeff Parker (founder of CCBN), and Howard Cox (Special Limited Partner at Greylock).
Having repeat founders is very critical to the health and success of the Boston tech ecosystem. When you have entrepreneurs like Friend and Flowers building their sixth company together, it’s an opportunity to take on the tech giants and swing for the fences. Yes, it's high risk, but it is also high reward and it's the home runs which end up being the next anchor tech companies in the Boston.
Images courtesy of Wasabi.