Backupify Rolls Out Gmail Tool, Wants to Build Data Protection Layer for the Web

3/6/13

Three pearls of wisdom from Backupify CEO Rob May, right off the bat:

1. “Successful companies often appear like bad ideas at the beginning.”

2. “The company that solves the ‘big data’ problem for businesses would not have got down to do that.”

3. “We’re losing the power to look patterns across history.”

May (pictured above) is nothing if not provocative. His observations at the tech industry -from the large players to the daily echo chamber of blogs and social media-hint at a deeper view of what his company is making an attempt to succeed in (and a healthy contrarian streak).

Backupify is understood for its Web software that backs up data from business apps and social media. The Cambridge, MA-based startup is rolling out a free Gmail management tool today that monitors cupboard space and identifies big e-mail attachments that Google Apps users can delete or download to save lots of space. The tool known as FreeSpace , and it’s of particular interest to me, since I’m currently at 90 percent capacity in my Xconomy e-mail account. (50,000+ unread e-mails isn’t helping my cause.)

It’s a small piece of reports, but it surely speaks to where Backupify is heading. The corporate was targeting both small and medium-size businesses and enterprise customers (backing up Salesforce.com data, as an example). Last month, it released a software platform to permit outside developers to integrate Backupify’s data backup and protection capabilities into their applications; the platform is in private beta trials, with a public release slated for this summer.

Backupify is attempting to hide the whole bases essential to stake a claim to the “data graph.” That may be analogous to the social graph of the net-showing how every bit of information on the net is identified and connected to others.

Yes, I’m afraid this all ties into the buzzword of “big data.” However the idea is that reams of industrial data-the entire corporate information that should be accessed inside the cloud-may warrant a separate layer to maneuver around in. “Long term, over a higher decade, we will build a data protection layer around the [software as a service] ecosystem,” May says. “Think of it as a relational data layer, not a database.”

Sounds pretty abstract, however the concrete payoff is in providing secure copies of commercial data for software-as-a-service companies which might be building and managing apps-and helping them share that data with their partners and customers, May says.

That’s no small task, and it can be quite lucrative. Backupify ultimately can have to fend off bigger players including EMC, Carbonite, Actifio (which has some big funding news today ), Box, Dropbox, Symantec, or even Google within the battle to be the default online-backup system for business data.

Backupify was started in 2008, originally in Kentucky . The corporate has raised about $20 million from Avalon Ventures, General Catalyst, Symantec, and others. It has 30-some employees, including a new marketing team (there was a lot of turnover in that department). May didn’t give any absolute numbers, so the baseline number could be quite small, but he says revenue increased by a factor of 7 in 2012 over the previous year.

One gets the sense that Backupify is at the cusp of something really big-and that it may possibly still crash and burn, but is making an attempt to take off before competitors and potential acquirers really take notice. Is that fair to say?

Check back later this year, May says. After which he’s back to work.

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