BY GORDON GOTTSEGEN
BUILT IN LA, JANUARY 21, 2021

OpenDrives data storage product
PHOTO: OPENDRIVES

If you’ve ever tried to download a movie for a long trip, only to find out that your device doesn’t have enough storage on it, you’ll know how much space video files can take up. A new movie can require several gigabytes of space, and those file sizes are getting bigger and bigger with the introduction of things like 8K resolution and higher frames per second.

But that doesn’t even come close to how much storage is required to actually make a movie. Post-production teams have to deal with hours of b-roll, alternate takes, audio clips, CGI and so on, which ends up being a gargantuan amount of data. And not only do these teams need to access this data, they need to be able to access it quickly. No one has time to wait hours for files to load when moving a file from a network to their computer.

This problem is what led a team of film and media professionals to launch OpenDrives in 2011. Now, the Culver City-based company is ready to announce that it’s raised up to $20 million in its Series B funding round.

OpenDrives is a provider of network-attached storage (NAS) solutions for companies that handle data-heavy workflows. The company’s products are designed to store massive amounts of data, while making them easy to access thanks to low-latency, high-performance and optimization technology.

OpenDrives software on screen
PHOTO: OPENDRIVES

For example, director David Fincher and Fox filmed the movie Gone Girl in 6K, and playback of their video files alone required 1.6 gigabytes/second. For those who don’t know, that’s a large amount of data being accessed by an entire team of post-production professionals, which places a huge burden on traditional storage systems. But the team turned to OpenDrives’ Apex product and were able to get the job done. Apex was able to allow for smooth scrubbing and playback, and reincorporate completed composites 200 percent faster than traditional workflow methods.

This technology has helped OpenDrives score some major companies in the media and entertainment space as customers, including Disney, Warner Brothers, HBO, NBC Universal, Paramount, Dreamworks and a lot more. And while media and entertainment will remain the company’s bread and butter, OpenDrives is also looking into expanding into new verticals, like video games, healthcare and other industries that rely on access to large file sizes.

“Our first priority will always be in continuing to service the media and entertainment space, but there’s additional opportunities in new places,” OpenDrives CEO David Buss told Built In. “Two that immediately come to mind are the healthcare and health science space, which rely on object storage and large file storage for medical imaging, genomics and things like that.”

Buss, who previously spent years serving in the U.S. Navy and also led his own defense company, thinks that the federal government could also benefit from OpenDrives’ technology. He imagines that perhaps one day the U.S. Defense Department could become an OpenDrives customer.

“There is a window of opportunity that has recently opened up in the federal government,” Buss added. “The government has come to the realization that leading-edge innovation is coming from elsewhere in the commercial sector. And that’s creating this opportunity for companies like ours to perhaps gain a toehold where we couldn’t previously.”

OpenDrives storage drives
PHOTO: OPENDRIVES

These potential verticals give OpenDrives a lot of room for growth, which is why it chose to raise its Series B round of funding now. Buss was hired as CEO in late 2019, with a handful of other key executive hires. The company plans to continue its hiring spree and grow the employee headcount by around 50 percent in the near future.

Buss is also proud of the fact that the company didn’t have to lay off any employees in 2020 due to COVID-19. Without disclosing specific numbers, Buss told Built In that the company had a “very successful” year of revenue in 2020. The company also became an investor in workflow startup Ctrl IQ. All this plus the Series B funding has the company looking forward to the future.

“We’re a rocket ship. I just need somebody to light the fuse and off we’ll go,” Buss told Built In. “And I think 2021 is going to provide that opportunity for us. I think that’s why closing this round was so important for us — because it gives us the capital that we needed to execute on the growth strategy that we know we can achieve.”