French startup Shadow, also known as Blade, just raised a Series A round of $57.1 million (€51 million). Shadow thinks your next computer is going to be in a data center. Your existing phones, laptops and Shadow’s own device (pictured above) act as a thin client, a window into your virtual machine running on a beefy server in a data center near you.
I’ve already written a bit about Shadow. The startup is running thousands of virtual machines on 800 server-grade Intel Xeon processors with a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1070 for each user. It’s only available in France for now.
In my own testing, it works quite well already even though you can feel that the service is still a bit young. The only issue is that you currently need a speedy fiber connection, which still limits the market quite a bit in France.
You can get your personal instance for around $32.70 per month (€30). This isn’t just a gaming platform, you get a full Windows 10 virtual machine. So far, 3,500 people have been using the service as the company has been accepting new users in batches every other month.
With today’s funding round, the company plans to accept a lot more customers. “The first thing we’re going to change is that we were relying on a pre-order system,” co-founder and CEO Emmanuel Freund said. “We have a lot more demand compared to our offering output. We’re going to switch to an instant ordering system.”
Eventually, you’ll be able to sign up to Shadow and use your Shadow computer the next day. This is going to be challenging as Shadow will need to keep up with the demand and roll out enough servers so that new servers are always available.
Shadow already said that it isn’t in the business of looking at your data. You control your Windows instance, you can encrypt your data and Shadow doesn’t have your Windows password. But the company said that it plans to provide its own encryption system and write stronger terms of service when it comes to privacy.
On average, these users have been spending 2.5 hours per day per user over the last 30 days. By targeting gamers, Shadow has been focusing on heavy PC users so this number isn’t that surprising.
But the startup doesn’t plan to stop there. Up next, Shadow wants to sell instances through B2B channels and target less powerful needs. Eventually, Shadow wants to replace computers in your office or your grandparents’ computer. Those servers probably aren’t going to have a big Nvidia GPU, but it’s going to bring the next big wave of users.
The startup wants to attract 100,000 clients by the end of 2018. Shadow is going to expand to the U.K. and Germany in 2017, with other European countries following suit. For each geographical expansion, the startup needs to find new data centers and sign peering deals with telecom companies around Europe.
The company is also going to open an office in Palo Alto so that they can talk with American partners, such as server makers and Microsoft. And I’m sure that the company will need a ton of capital to buy new servers and expand its infrastructure.
While cloud computing for end users have been a wild dream for years, internet connections may have become fast enough to turn this into something that you can actually use. Shadow plans to take advantage of that.