Dell Ventures launches fund for storage startups

July 17, 2012, 6:12 PM UTC

FORTUNE — Got an innovative storage startup? Dell may want to give you some cash. The computer maker is launching a $60 million early stage storage fund, announced by CEO Michael Dell at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen.

“Dell has a long history in seed investments in interesting technology companies,” Dell told the audience at Brainstorm. “We really believe in this explosion of data driven a lot by smartphones and tablets.”

Dell was an early investor in VMWare and flash memory startup Fusion-io (whose chief scientist is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak). According to the company, the new so-called “Dell Fluid Data Storage Fund” will invest in five to ten “promising storage startups.” Dell will invest $3 to $5 million per round, and obtain equity positions in the companies it invests in.

Full transcript of the Dell interview is here

“Our storage investments will align to the Dell Fluid Data architecture strategy with the end game of bringing more affordable and easier to manage storage solutions to more of the market,” the company said in a blog post published today. “We are looking to change the economics of the storage industry by doing two things — bringing high-end enterprise features to the broad mid-market and solving enterprise problems at a midrange price point.”

Storage represents one of several big opportunities for Dell, as the company tries to transform itself from a PC maker to a provider of software, services and technologies used in data center. Sales of laptops and desktops still account for 54% of Dell’s revenue, but CEO Dell says it’s a “very different company that it was four to five years ago.”

“The business mix is changing pretty dramatically,” said Dell. But the founder and CEO also admitted he has a lot of evangelizing to do, and that many CEOs and CIOs he meets with are surprised when they hear about the newer businesses Dell has entered, like software and storage. Dell hasn’t just invested in companies that help propel its transformation, it’s also aggressively acquiring startups (recent acquisitions include Quest Software and Wyse Technology) and Dell said the company will continue to do so, in the storage space and other strategic areas.

“We’ve spent $5 billion on acquisitions just this year,” said Dell. “The storage world is really getting shaken up a tremendous amount and you’ll see us continuing our acquisitions in that area.”

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