Waikato’s Nyriad raises $40m, shifts HQ to US – chairman Guy Haddleton fronts

Waikato firm Nyriad – which is creating a new generation of storage technology for large organisations – has raised US$28 million in a Series C round and shifted its corporate headquarters to the US.

On November 1 Nyriad became fully-owned by a new holding company, the Delaware-incorporated Nyriad Inc, and US-based executives have been recruited to run key roles at its new San Francisco HQ.

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Why shift Nyriad’s corporate office to the US?

“That’s where our customers will be. And that’s where the business will grow,” chairman and cornerstone investor Guy Haddleton tells the Herald.

“We’re going to need to raise substantial capital in the future. That’s going to come from America. It’s not going to come from New Zealand.”

The richlister adds: “Finally, and most importantly, there’s a huge massive opportunity with the US Federal Government – and the US Federal Government only buys from American companies effectively. So you add all that together, and it just makes sense to be American.”

After years of product development, relative newcomer to the company Haddleton expects Nyriad to make its first sales in the first quarter of next year.

He says the first wave of customers will likely be in high-performance computing, media and defence.

While its chief executive – veteran US executive Herb Hunt, recruited late last year – is now based in San Francisco, along with most of its top managers – Nyriad retains its Kiwi identity in two key respects.

First, Haddleton and other New Zealand investors chipped in most of the funds for the Series C raise, and retain majority ownership. (The richlister would not name other participants. He would not provide an exact post-money valuation but said it was under $100m.)

Second, Nyriad’s engineering and development team in Cambridge will remain – although the company will supplement the team with new hires in Silicon Valley and elsewhere offshore.

Nyriad was co-founded by Matthew Simmons and Microsoft US alumnus Alex St John in 2014.

It was initially focused on opportunities centring on the multi-billion Square Kilometre Array radio telescope before refocusing on the commercial market.

At one point it had around 100 staff but by 2019 it had yet to commercialise its product and the company appeared to have lost its way, with questions raised about funding from Crown venture capital agency NZVIF (now NZGCP) and alleged poor treatment of interns.

But things brightened in 2020 as Haddleton stepped in as a white knight, leading an $11m Series B round and installing himself as chairman and Hunt as CEO.

Simmons exited stage left as Haddleton’s investment was announced. St John had already departed in 2019.

Haddleton said this morning that staff numbers currently sit at around 40.

Where Simmons had a background in acoustic engineering and was not always strong articulating the business opportunity for his company’s technology, or when, Haddleton has proven his chops in the tech sector.

The richlister was an early backer of Xero and, with his wife Susie, co-founded two business-planning software ventures: Adaytum (sold to IBM for US$160m in 2003) and, with UK entrepreneur Michael Gold, Anaplan, which raised US$235m when it was listed on the NYSE in 2018 at a US$3b valuation (today the firm is valued at US$8.7b).

Nyriad says its storage technology offers “new architecture that combines the power of GPUs [graphics processing units] and CPUs [central processing units] to deliver an unprecedented combination of performance, resilience, and efficiency, enabling massive amounts of data and multiple data types to be managed in a single storage system that is simple to deploy, operate, and scale in a cost-effective way.

GPU technology players have been strongly associated with the bitcoin mining boom that has helped nVidia become one of the world’s 20 most valuable companies.

But Haddleton says Nyriad only wants to dominate a certain area of high-performance storage.

“We’re purely storage. We’re very, very focused. We want to be better than anybody else in the world at storage.”

The richlister tells the Herald that Anaplan raised around $600m before it listed. He doesn’t anticipate as much capital will be required for Nyriad, which he describes as “more efficient” but he says raises to come will still be on a scale that will benefit from the company being American.

Some of the new funding is earmarked for go-to-market efforts, and Nyriad has just begun advertising for a product marketing manager who will be based in the US.

They will join a US exec team of Silicon Valley veterans that includes Hunt, chief operating officerJohn Scaramuzzo and chief financial officer Steve Lance.

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