Isilon Systems Sours The Taste

by: Inventing Money

Isilon Systems (ISLN), like BigBand Networks (NASDAQ:BBND), is a recent IPO in the data storage arena. ISLN pre-announced, and it was not pretty. Here is the press release:

Isilon® Systems the leader (don't you love that - "leader") in clustered storage, today announced preliminary results for the third quarter of 2007 ended September 30, 2007. Based on preliminary estimates, total revenue is expected to be in the range of $23.2 million to $23.7 million, down approximately 6 percent to 8 percent sequentially... the company stated it expected total revenue in the range of $25 million to $27.5 million for the third quarter.

Company blamed one of its largest customers - Kodak (EK) (17% of revenues last quarter went to 0% this quarter - ZILCH) amongst weakness in Europe for the short-fall. This goes back to my point regarding young companies relying on few customers to make or break their quarters, similar to the BBND miss earlier. Company did indicate strength in Government vertical, which is to be expected in this fiscal year end for government, which is what is carrying NTAP quarter from what I gather.

It's funny, because just last quarter ISLN was touting its backlog or pipeline as being at "all time highs", and this quarter the CEO said "we are not going to talk about pipeline.." WOW! did you hear that, he does not want to talk about his all time high pipeline!! And you expect me to believe all is dandy again after this miss?

The lessons in all this: Understand your investments well, and by that I mean who are its large customers, lurking competitors and what is management background/talent? Cool technology does not make for great investment most of the time and competition in technology is very fierce, which makes any technical lead meaningless fast.

There are bunch of companies that have high customer concentration in the tech world and suffice it to say those companies might be high fliers like CAVM or NETL, but sooner or later they all need to branch out and expand their customer base or they end up like BBND or ISLN.