Storage Hotshot Heads to Valhalla

Valhalla Partners has added Farah Giga as its newest principal, hiring the 28-year-old storage hotshot away from Hewlett-Packard after only two years.

Giga was the integration lead for HP in its $2.35 billion acquisition of 3PAR last year. Although still in her 20s, Giga has been working in data storage for nearly a decade. She previously was with Hitachi Data Systems, which she joined as a 19-year-old Stanford University sophomore.

Giga stayed with Hitachi while earning an undergraduate degree and two master’s degrees from Stanford, working across software development, technical marketing and architecture. She joined HP in 2009.

Valhalla’s partners met Giga in January, and they say they quickly spotted a talent. As Valhalla’s director of research Dan Gordon puts it, the firm is a manufacturing business (as in “manufacturing” exits for its companies), so Giga’s experience in M&A was attractive to the partners.

“A more typical feeding ground for new rock star venture talent would be the startup exit,” says, General Partner Charles Curran. “We think that having experience as the acquirer is very valuable. There are two or three people who matter at each of these companies, and they prefer to acquire companies they’ve done OEM deals and partnerships with. And they prefer to do OEM deals with people they trust.”

Giga says the move was a natural next step after her work at HP, which included targeting for OEM and partnerships. She started at Valhalla in early September, after relocating to the East Coast. She’ll focus on investments in “next-generation infrastructure,” which includes cloud computing, solid state and big data, among other sectors.

Valhalla has already placed some bets in cloud computing. Among its investments is SolidFire, a Boulder, Colo.-based cloud computing storage platform that raised its first institutional round last summer from Valhalla and Novak Biddle Venture Partners.

San Diego-based Nirvanix, another cloud company in its portfolio, has raised at least $40 from Valhalla, Intel Capital and Mission Ventures.

“We aren’t picking technology so much as a big wave,” Curran says. “Everybody is going to rebuild their data centers for the cloud because it’s cheaper.”

Valhalla is investing from its second fund, a $260 million vehicle that closed at the end of 2006. Curran says the firm still has roughly $100 million for making new deals, and that it will continue to bolster its investment team, making a similar hire in its digital media practice.

Clancy Nolan is a Toronto-based contributor. She can be reached at clancynolan@gmail.com.