Monosphere Storage Optimization

, a startup that develops solutions to optimize data storage, has wrapped up a $7 million private placement, its founder and manager Avi Shilav told TheMarker today.

Its round was led by the U.S. fund

Lightspeed Venture Partners

. Other contributors included the U.S. fund

Benchmark Capital

, which had invested $1.8 million in Monosphere's seed round.

Monosphere objected to expanding the round to $9-10 million at the behest of Lightspeed and Israeli venture capital funds, Shilav added, in order to avoid diluting the holdings of the company's founders and employees too much.

Monosphere's solution is based on segmenting the organization's storage needs. It can improve the utilization of data storage resources by hundreds of percent, the company says. Monosphere's solution has been installed at four Israeli companies, including the local branch of Deloitte and Touche.

The market for data storage disks is about $50 billion a year. Monosphere's product competes with products from EMC, Networks Appliances, Hitachi Data System and others. Despite the hi-tech crisis, Shilav says, data storage system sales have only gone up.

Shilav predicts sales half a million in 2002, followed by $4.5 million in 2003, rising to $15 million to $20 million in 2004. He also predicts a Wall Street flotation if the markets rally by 2004.

The company, established in 2001, employs 25 people at its R&D center in Kfar Saba, and plans to open headquarters in California, where it hopes to recruit about 20 people to handle marketing.

Lightspeed, which has some $2.3 billion under management, was formerly known as Greer Weiss & Peck. It finished gathering commitments for a fourth fund with a billion dollars under management in 2001.