What Is Cloud.com Worth?

Citrix Systems this week bought Cloud.com , a 70-employee start-up that makes cloud infrastructure software. At the same time, it acquired what may be one of today's most desirable tech domain names, cloud.com.

Consider that Apple earlier this year reportedly paid $4.5 million for the "icloud.com" domain name. Apple unveiled the new iCloud storage service shortly thereafter.

Cayman Island-based Frank Schilling, widely regarded as one of the world's most successful generic domain name investors with names such as Antarctica.com, said that cloud.com could fetch $3 million to $7 million if its new owner were to sell it.

"Anything less would have been a very good value for the purchaser," he wrote, in an email.

The sale price of the privately-held Cloud.com wasn't disclosed.

"Cloud computing is an extremely competitive and critical space for the companies operating there," said Schilling. "All companies in this space want to be relevant in the hearts and minds of their customers. Citrix is a very well capitalized company with a learned appreciation for the values of domain names."

Even if the cloud.com domain name could fetch $7 million, it would still be well short of the $13 million paid last year for sex.com, which the Domain Name Journal listed as the top priced domain name sold in 2010.

The domain name social.com was sold for $2.6 million this month, the highest price so far this year in the Journal's listings.

But Citrix had motivations for buying Cloud.com that had little to do with the name.

Cloud.com's infrastructure management product enables users to take existing hardware and hypervisors and create a cloud platform. Its main product, CloudStack, provides orchestration, load placements and management features that make the task possible.

Peder Ulander, the chief marketing officer at Cloud.com, said that about 80% of the company's customers today use its products with Citrix Xenserver.

Along with Xenserver, the open source CloudStack product supports KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware's vSphere.

Ulander said that joining with Citrix "amplifies what we can do because we're now closer to the product team."

As a start-up, "we only had so much reach," said Ulander. "This basically builds a lot of credibility and lot of experience and sets us up for an accelerated market position versus what we would have to do as a grow-by-yourself startup."

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov , or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com .

Read more about cloud computing in Computerworld's Cloud Computing Topic Center.

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