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Cloud archiving start-up Sonian deposits another $9 million, some from Amazon.com

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 17, 2011 10:00 PM

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Everyone's favorite e-tailer, Amazon.com, is making a rare strategic investment in a Massachusetts start-up this week. The Seattle company is participating in a $9 million round of funding for Needham-based Sonian.

Sonian helps more than 5,000 business customers archive their e-mails and other digital communication (like instant messages and Tweets) to comply with various federal record-keeping regulations. The company mainly stashes the information in data centers run by Amazon, which sells storage by the terabyte through its Amazon Web Services division. But Sonian won't exclusively rely on Amazon's "cloud"-based storage service forever, Sonian vice president of engineering Joe Kinsella says: it'll eventually offer customers a choice of various cloud storage offerings.

Also participating in Sonian's second round of funding are Webroot Software, a Colorado-based Internet security company; Summerhill Venture Partners, a Toronto and Boston-based venture capital firm; and Prism VentureWorks of Needham.

Amazon's investment was made by Jeff Blackburn, senior vice president of business development at the company.

Sonian says its archiving service helps customers deal with the endless accumulation of e-mail and other electronic corporate communications in a cost-effective way. The company says it'll use the new funds for continued R&D and "business expansion." Sonian has raised about $15 million in total. CEO Jeff Dickerson joined the company last November.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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