Woz’s job goes up in smoke after startup burns through $100 million

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Steve Wozniak
Woz was employed as the company's chief scientist.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC

Primary Data, an enterprise storage startup which employed Steve Wozniak as its chief scientist, appears to have shut down. At time of writing, the company’s Twitter and Facebook appear to be down, although its webpage is still working. Its operating status is described as “closed.”

“Primary Data collapsed and got shut down over the weekend,” an anonymous source told the website The Register. “All employees got laid off. Management wanted to buy off all investors and convert preferred shares to common. Investors said no. $100m of investor money is all burnt up and gone, with nothing to show.”

Primary Data secured $50 million of funding in 2013, before securing an additional $13 million B-round in 2014, and a $20 million C-round in August 2017. Altogether that added up to $83 million of funding, with an extra $20 million line of credit.

As The Register points out, since the last round of funding was concluded in late summer last year that would represent rapid spending for a company with only around 100 employees.

A source told TechCrunch that the problem was that Primary Data’s technology was not as “compelling” as it needed to be, causing problems with manageability, usability, data quality and performance.

Woz has been involved in a number of startups over the years after leaving full-time employment at Apple in the 1980s (he returned briefly in the 1990s to work as an advisor, before Steve Jobs ditched him in this role.) Confusingly, last year he was reported as being an adviser for a new augmented reality chap app launched by New England Patriots tight end Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski — although he later said this was not the case.