The Canberra-based startup Instaclustr, which was incubated on campus at the Australian National University, is set to be acquired by US giant NetApp at a price understood to be above $500 million.
Founded in 2012, Instaclustr makes cloud-based internet products for companies to store and use large volumes of data to power their apps and services. Its customers include online streaming services, app stores, social media and ride-sharing companies.
Nasdaq-listed NetApp announced overnight on Thursday that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Instaclustr, subject to the usual closing conditions. NetApp did not disclose the acquisition price, although investors close to Instaclustr said it was more than $500 million.
Instaclustr is led by chief executive and co-founder Peter Lilley and was created in a shared innovation space on the ANU campus. It now employs more than 300 people.
In 2014 the company received a $2 million seed round of funding led by ANU Connect Ventures and has grown into one of Canberra’s largest tech companies, with substantial offshore operations in the US and UK. Other large VC investors include Level Equity, Our Innovation Fund LP, and Bailador.
ANU vice-chancellor professor Brian Schmidt said Instaclustr’s acquisition by NetApp transforms a local company in to “a global giant”. He called it “massive news” not just for ANU but “for every university across our nation.”
“The acquisition of Instaclustr, which started out with some clever ideas in a co-working space on the ANU campus, by one of the world’s leading software companies demonstrates how our universities are creating the jobs, products and industries of tomorrow today,” professor Schmidt said.
“Instaclustr provides secure and cost-effective cloud solutions for some of the world’s biggest companies using massive amounts of data across their cloud-based solutions. It’s fantastic to see the company truly going global,” he said.
“This is exactly the kind of innovation ANU is set up to deliver for Australia and the world and something we deliver day in, day out.”
Professor Schmidt said the success of Instaclustr was a vindication of the university’s strategy in setting up ANU Connect Ventures, a seed investment fund jointly owned by ANU and Spirit Super. Since leading the seed round for Instaclustr, ANU Connect Ventures has tipped more than $8.5 million into the company in subsequent rounds.
“ANU was one of the first universities in the world to establish a venture capital fund focused on commercialising our discoveries and inventions,” Professor Schmidt said.
“ANU Connect Ventures backed Instaclustr from day one and led the first few investment rounds in Instaclustr. Our willingness to invest first allowed other investors to back our judgement and invest alongside us.
“The returns to the university from this investment will now seed our new activities for years to come.”
ANU Connect Ventures chief executive Nick McNaughton said: “Our mission is to back unique ideas, providing their early capital, as they strive for global success. We have been on this journey with Pete and the team since 2014.
“Today is a result of the hard work of countless people in the company, on the board, from investors and from partners. We congratulate everyone on this success”.
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