Western Digital takes a familiar path into new markets with a pair of deals 

Contact: Scott Denne, Tim Stammers

Western Digital has printed two different deals that follow the same pattern. The disk-drive giant has acquired enterprise storage vendor Tegile Systems along with Upthere, a developer of consumer cloud storage products, continuing its recent feast-then-famine M&A pace. Those targets mark the first companies it has bought since reaching for SanDisk in a $17bn transaction at the end of 2015.

In Western Digital’s last cycle, it spent $1bn across three acquisitions in the solid-state storage sector in the third quarter of 2013, followed by a 15-month hiatus from the market. Before that string of SSD deals, but after its $4.3bn purchase of HGST in 2011, it had only bought one company – a tuck-in of backup software firm Arkeia.

Like each of the last four private companies that Western Digital purchased, both of today’s targets took minority investments from Western Digital, which led the most recent venture rounds raised by Tegile and Upthere. Both transactions also push Western Digital further upmarket. Upthere sells high-performance cloud storage services designed for pictures, extending Western Digital’s consumer storage business and, since Upthere builds its own infrastructure rather than running on AWS, it brings a technical team that could bolster the acquirer’s ability to deliver enterprise offerings for other cloud services.

With Tegile, Western Digital becomes a full systems provider – a shift that’s been many years and many deals in the making. Purchases of Virident and SanDisk brought it hardware products to sell directly to enterprises, rather than OEMs, and acquisitions of Skyera and Amplidata brought it software IP that could potentially be used to build its own storage systems. If the past is any indication, Western Digital is wise to stick to its patterns – the company’s stock is up 90% in the wake of its SanDisk buy and a year-long streak of beating Wall Street’s projections.

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