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OwnBackup CEO: Funding will support M&A, products, IPO plans

In this Q&A, OwnBackup CEO Sam Gutmann discusses how the company is working towards going public as well as his near-term product and staffing plans.

OwnBackup CEO Sam Gutmann said he has his sights set on significantly expanding the company's platform and taking the SaaS backup provider public, following its largest funding round.

OwnBackup secured a Series D investment of $167.5 million, bringing its total funding to $267.5 million. The software company's valuation of $1.4 billion gives it unicorn status.

"We really see an IPO-sized opportunity ahead of us," Gutmann said. "Putting the infrastructure in place this year to support a public company in the future is something we're tripling down on."

OwnBackup has been focused on Salesforce data protection, providing a range of capabilities including backup, recovery and sandbox seeding.

The funding will help OwnBackup expand into other SaaS platforms. Gutmann said he couldn't provide specifics on the new backup support, but other popular SaaS platforms include Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Dropbox and Box. The OwnBackup CEO is targeting midsummer for new platform support.

The funding will also support adding offices around the world as OwnBackup aims to add customers globally. The company, based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., claims 3,000 customers, up from about 2,000 in the middle of 2020.

OwnBackup has roughly 300 employees, and the company plans to add 250 more this year. While the funding will aid the staff increase, most of the funding round will be aimed at mergers and acquisitions (M&A), Gutmann said.

Gutmann said he hopes to have the first M&A activity finished within the first half of the year. He didn't give a timetable for the IPO filing.

Insight Partners, Salesforce Ventures and new investor Sapphire Ventures co-led the funding round, which also had participation from existing investors Innovation Endeavors, Vertex Ventures and Oryzn Capital. Insight owns Veeam Software and has a stake in several other data protection vendors.

In this Q&A, the OwnBackup CEO details closing a funding round during a pandemic, what the company needs to do before filing for an IPO and the possibility of getting acquired. 

What kind of product development will this funding fuel?

Sam GutmannSam Gutmann

Sam Gutmann: It's multifold. Our vision has and remains to be the single pane of glass, where an enterprise can back up, protect and manage all their SaaS data. We've been very focused within the Salesforce ecosystem to date, but there's quite a few other amazing SaaS applications that have the same challenges to data that Salesforce does. And you'll see us expanding our ecosystem breadth starting this year.

Secondly, we're really a multiproduct company today. We have our recover product -- that's our core product -- our archiving product, our development tool for sandbox seeding. So where else can we help Salesforce administrators? We've had a lot of other great ideas, a lot of customers asking for additional functionality. With a good use of the proceeds, we're going to double the size of our engineering team to execute against both facets of that roadmap.

This is the biggest funding round you've had, in the middle of a pandemic. What does that say about the type of service you're providing?

Gutmann: Our customers and prospects realize that what we're providing is absolutely an essential service. What we found was that with COVID abruptly impacting businesses, they all realized that they needed to tremendously accelerate all of their digital transformation projects. But on the flip side, a lot of the controls that were in place couldn't happen anymore because everyone was working remotely.

At the time you need to move faster, there's a lot more risk that's introduced into the process and without having something like an OwnBackup in place, businesses are really nervous about accelerating some of those projects.

Were there any challenges to securing a funding round in the middle of a pandemic?

Gutmann: It's never an easy prospect, but we had years of triple-digit growth, so we had quite a bit of inbound interest and competing firms that wanted to be part of our growth story. And we doubled down on our focus and our execution. I think our old and new investors saw that and had great confidence that that growth would continue into the future.

With Salesforce Ventures involved, are there any issues in terms of OwnBackup drifting into other platforms beyond the Salesforce ecosystem?

Gutmann: No, I think as a financial investor and a strategic investor, obviously they love their platform. But they're huge believers in the SaaS ecosystem, or the greater shift to SaaS in general. They very much have encouraged us to continue to build out our broader vision -- we work closely with them in many different ways.

What were the drivers in customer growth? Was the end of Salesforce Data Recovery one of them?

Gutmann: That absolutely helped bring front of mind how everyone in the ecosystem has the same challenges. It's become quite clear that Salesforce is a great platform and they're responsible for it, but the customers are responsible for their own data.

Also, with those digital transformation projects needing to be accelerated, businesses have this idea, 'Wait a minute, I'm not as protected as maybe I thought I was,' plus, 'I need to move faster.'

As OwnBackup CEO, is there anything specific you're looking for in terms of the M&A?

We're just not focused on an exit in any way. We absolutely believe there is an IPO-sized opportunity ahead of us.
Sam GutmannCEO, OwnBackup

Gutmann: Yes, we have a broad roadmap, both in other ecosystems as well as other products and features that we can deliver to our existing customer base and Salesforce platform customers. There's nothing specific to announce, but we have a broad strategy and I think we'll do a number of things over the next year.

Besides increasing staff and improving your infrastructure, what else do you need to have in place before you go public?

Gutmann: We filled out the executive team completely this year. It's just looking at every part of our business. We've established clear market dominance in our first market and we want to do that in every other ecosystem we go into. We're just going to keep doubling down on the fundamentals of the business and making sure that we have the best product and the best team in every area, whether it be the Salesforce ecosystem or the next one.

Are you open to being acquired?

Gutmann: I don't believe startups should be focused on an exit. I really believe they should be focused on building great big businesses with good economics in big markets, solving real problems, and good things will happen along the way. Should I wake up one morning and this isn't fun anymore, maybe I change my answer. But we're just not focused on an exit in any way. We absolutely believe there is an IPO-sized opportunity ahead of us. Statistically speaking, more likely than not, software companies get bought and don't go public, but we have a complete focus on growth and how big we can get this and have fun along the way.

This interview had been condensed and edited for clarity.

Paul Crocetti is a senior site editor in TechTarget's IT Infrastructure and Strategy Media Group. He became editor of the SearchStorage site in January 2021, after serving as editor of the SearchDataBackup and SearchDisasterRecovery sites since June 2015. He also continues to cover news in the backup and disaster recovery markets.

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