Rawpixel.com - stock.adobe.com
The board of directors for Panzura, a storage management vendor, promoted Dan Waldschmidt to CEO on Wednesday, replacing Jill Stelfox.
Waldschmidt and Stelfox both joined the company when venture capital firm Profile Management Capital purchased it in 2020. Stelfox was appointed CEO at the time, and Waldschmidt was brought on as the chief revenue officer.
Panzura did not specify a reason for Stelfox's exit in a press release announcing the news. The release also stated that Waldschmidt guided the company's growth by 288% in the past three years, among other accolades.
Panzura sells cloud file storage gateway CloudFS. The gateway enables a single namespace for unstructured file data. The company also sells additional SaaS capabilities for data management and edge access.
The company was founded in 2008, focusing on cloud file storage migration and NAS filers before shifting to data management and storage services. Following the 2020 sale, the company raised $80 million in a series B round of funding from Kayne Partners and CIBC Innovation Banking in May 2022.
Since that round of funding, Panzura has remained relatively quiet outside of a handful of smaller updates and feature releases, according to Scott Sinclair, an analyst at TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group. While the growth of the business has been positive, the lack of messaging about generative AI (GenAI), which exploded into enterprise IT last year, along with a dearth of other releases is problematic, he said.
"The question I have for [Waldschmidt] is what does the next phase for Panzura look like," Sinclair said.
Increasing cloud storage competition
GenAI requires a massive amount of unstructured file and object data to train its models, said Dave Raffo, an independent analyst. Similar storage specialists to Panzura such as Nasuni are already integrating GenAI capabilities or offering ways to manage data sprawl.
"It sounds like they did well [financially] but haven't done much in the way of the technology," Raffo said. "They do need an AI story."
Steve McDowellFounder and principal analyst, NAND Research
Panzura is also operating in an increasingly competitive market. Storage vendors such as NetApp, Dell Technologies and Hammerspace offer similar capabilities to Panzura's products alongside unique features and, in the case of Dell and NetApp, legacy hardware, according to Steve McDowell, founder and principal analyst at NAND Research. All of these vendors are pitching GenAI capabilities to their customers to increase sales in addition to regular product updates, he said.
"These guys who have a strong storage [technology] stack, they're jumping in," McDowell said. "[Panzura has] a short runway here because the market is so crowded."
Stelfox was not immediately available for comment at press time, but did issue a statement on LinkedIn shortly after the news went live on Panzura's website.
"I am actively choosing to be silent right now until I am able to be authentic," she wrote.
A company spokesperson declined to offer specifics of Stelfox's exit at press time, saying only that she "has moved on from the firm, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors."
"It sounds like she was pushed [out]," Raffo said.
Tim McCarthy is a journalist from the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.