Igneous Systems, a Seattle, Wash.-based company founded by storage technology veterans who come from Isilon Systems, EMC and NetApp, closed a $23.6 million Series A funding round.

The startup says little about what exactly it is planning to do other than promising a new approach to building, maintaining and scaling enterprise data center infrastructure. The sizeable round will fund product development and expansion of the company’s engineering and leadership teams.

Igneous CEO Kiran Bhageshpur spent the last six years in senior engineering roles at Isilon, a scale-out NAS storage company acquired by EMC in 2010. He continued working for EMC after the acquisition, most recently as vice president of engineering, running product development for the Isilon division.

Byron Rakitzis, chief architect at Igneous, was NetApp’s first employee (other than the storage giant’s founders) and holds about 30 storage and file-system technology patents. His most recent assignment at NetApp was on the company’s all-Flash storage team.

Third member of the founding team, Jeff Hughes, spent years doing product engineering at Isilon. Two years after the acquisition, he became director of engineering at EMC’s Isilon division. At Igneous, Hughes is vice president of engineering.

Not revealing much about the company’s plans, Bhageshpur said it was going to bring to market a cloud solution that “solves some of today’s most complex engineering challenges.”

The funding round was led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Madrona Venture Group, Redpoint Ventures and Isilon co-founder, Sujal Patel. The company had previously raised a $3 million seed round led by Madrona, with participation from Redpoint.

Starting an interview with GeekWire, Igneous founder and CEO Kiran Bhageshpur bluntly notes: “I would like to not say anything about what we are actually doing.”


Igneous is very much in the early-stages of development, with Bhageshpur telling us that it could be well into 2015 before he’d feel comfortable sharing details about the data center infrastructure product they’re working on.

“We are building a team that is really bringing together the best and brightest of traditional enterprise infrastructure folks, as well as cloud infrastructure providers, like AWS and Azure,” said Bhageshpur. “I do believe that we have a different twist on where we see the evolution of enterprise data centers, and that’s kind of what our focus is. I will leave it at that.”

The 8-month-old company — housed at Madrona’s offices in Seattle — could have located in Silicon Valley where Bhageshpur has deep roots.

But the entrepreneur, who says he’s grown to love the Seattle (even the rain) since moving to town in 2008, chose the Pacific Northwest because of its vibrant startup ecosystem and strong tech talent.

“Along the way, I have fallen in love with both the place, and the dynamism of the ecosystem,” Bhageshpur says of Seattle. “I look at this as a place with a lot more upside, a lot more growing opportunity.” He declined to say how many people are now working at the company, only saying that they have “a robust team and we expect to be substantially growing in the next six to nine months.”

In some ways, Igneous is a bit like stealthy Seattle startup Qumulo, a Madrona-backed startup led by former Isilon vets vets which emerged on the scene two years ago with a massive $24.5 million funding round. Since then, the Peter Godman-led startup has kept a low profile, sharing few details about what it’s building on its bare bones Web site. (Igneous doesn’t have a Web site yet).

It’s certainly interesting to see some of the entrepreneurial talent from Isilon emerging in Seattle, which could create a wave of cloud-based storage startups.

Helping to fund those companies is Sujal Patel, the co-founder and former CEO of Isilon. Patel, a former RealNetworks employee, founded Isilon in 2000 and at the time he felt as if the ” enterprise storage market was ripe for disruption.”

“Opportunities to transform the enterprise IT landscape are rare, as are those with the technical wherewithal and business acumen to seize them,” Patel tells GeekWire. “I believe that such an opportunity exists for Igneous, and that its leadership team has the depth of experience to carry this vision forward.”