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IO Data raises $90 million, eyes IPO

October 10, 2012: 7:00 AM ET

A big vote of confidence for the modular model.

FORTUNE -- IO Data Centers has raised $90 million in new venture capital funding, just one month after landing a major client win with Goldman Sachs. This brings the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company's total equity funding to over $250 million, and helps keep it on track for a 2013 initial public offering.

New World Ventures led the round, and was joined by existing shareholders like Sterling Partners. IO also is in the process of securing a new debt facility, two years after raising $200 million in leveraged financing from Wells Fargo and Caterpillar Financial Services.

IO basically offers companies an alternative to using outsourced data centers or to constructing data centers of their own, by offering pre-fabricated modules that can be more easily scaled up or down (as needed). Moreover, IO argues that the module design requires less cooling than traditional data centers, thus lowering customer energy bills/carbon footprints.

The company currently has nearly 700 customers including Goldman Sachs (GS), which recently agreed to deploy IO modules in the U.S., UK and Singapore.

"We think this is an EMC-sized opportunity we're executing against," says George Slessman, IO's chief executive. "Our plan is to be a public company and list in 2013."

He adds that the company is not yet profitable, but "should be on a trajectory for significant earnings in 2014."

Proceeds from the offering will be used for additional R&D, plus hiring new salespeople (with a focus on Europe and Asia). To date, IO has approximately 300 employees and is seems to be "hiring one new person each day."

For New World Ventures, this is a fairly unusual deal. The Chicago-based firm, which is funded by the Pritzker family, typically invests between $3 million and $7 million into early-stage companies. Chris Girgenti, a New World partner who led the investment, says that he believes the data center industry is being revolutionized and that IO is well-positioned to be a leader going forward.

"The big question with any major technology change is always adoption, and that was one of our big questions here," Girgenti explains. "Goldman Sachs was, for us, a significant validation point that showed the snowball was beginning to run down the hill. And there are some other big deals that we knew were also in the works. Luckily, we have the flexibility to do things that are a bit different for us, if it's for the right company."

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Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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