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MIT Technology Review

35 Innovators Under 35

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  • Josh Coates

    28

    Ignore the bare feet. Josh Coates may look like an exuberant techie grad student, but he is a serious business player who has convinced investors to pony up $55 million for his 1999 San Francisco startup, Scale Eight. The chief technology officer has a paradigm-shattering idea that says the right software deployed over the Internet or local networks will let large corporations dramatically cut their data storage bills. Right now, data storage involves expensive, proprietary hard drives that are usually deployed at a few central sites; it’s a $20 billion market set to grow inexorably as more computers produce ever more information. But Scale Eight challenges that inevitability. Coates says his software will let customers use networks to route data to scores of cheap, off-the-shelf hard drives, where they can be stored inexpensively and securely. “I’m trying to sweep hardware out of the way and thereby commoditize storage, really lowering the costs, ”says Coates, who counts Microsoft among his two-dozen customers. “Software has no bounds, ”he adds. “If you can think of it, you can do it in software.”