EMC legend Yanai raises $150m for latest data-storage company, Infinidat

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In the world of data storage, Moshe Yanai is a legendary figure.

He led development of EMC’s Symmetrix storage systems, a revolutionary product that helped EMC leap ahead of IBM in the storage market.

Yanai eventually amassed a team of thousands of engineers, and was known to fly a helicopter around EMC’s Hopkinton campus. After leaving EMC, he founded a company that was acquired by former archrival IBM, which called him “one of the most influential contributors in the history of the data storage industry.”

Today, Yanai heads up Infinidat, a private company that is attempting to once again shake up the booming business of data storage.

Infinidat sells what it says are extremely high-capacity, reliable, energy-efficient storage arrays — cabinets full of servers that can store and access the growing amount of digital information being generated by consumers and businesses of all kinds.

Investors are paying attention. Today, Infinidat says it has raised $150 million from TPG Capital. The deal values Infinidat at $1.2 billion after accounting for the new infusion of cash.

Infinidat is based in Israel, where Yanai lives, but has its US headquarters in Needham. About half of Infinidat’s 40 US employees are in Massachusetts, including people in sales, marketing, operations, and development, vice president Gareth Taube said.

Infinidat would not disclose its sales figures, but Taube says the company has been selling its storage servers to companies that store their own data and to those who rent server space to others.

“We have a number of large end-user clients in the financial services in health care, in big data that are buying our systems directly,” he said. “And we have a number of clients that are managed service providers, that are offering rental storage space on the Internet.”

Taube says the investment, Infinidat’s second round since Yanai raised about $80 million in initial financing, is expected to carry the company to a position where it could go public. It plans to grow rapidly, doubling or perhaps tripling its US employee base in the next year, Taube said.