Benchmark puts $4.5 million in RightScale's cloud

The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based RightScale sells management software that helps start-ups tap into the remote computing power of Amazon data centers.

RightScale, a software service provider for applications that run on Amazon Web services, is expected to announce Thursday that it raised $4.5 million in first-round of funding from Benchmark Capital.

The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based RightScale, which was founded in May 2007, sells management software that helps start-ups tap into the remote computing power of Amazon data centers so that they can run Web applications at a lower cost than if they bought their own servers. In other words, RightScale sells so-called cloud computing services.

Kevin Harvey, a Benchmark general partner who has joined the company's board, said in an interview that RightScale is his firm's first investment in cloud computing, but it is broadly interested in the arena.

"We think cloud computing is bigger than Amazon Web services. But (RightScale's) doing a good job today, and helping a lot of people," said Harvey, whose firm is an investor in MySQL (now owned by Sun Microsystems) and Yelp.

To be sure, RightScale has between 50 and 100 paying customers, a 500 percent increase in the last six months, according to the company. It also has thousands of customers for its free Web-based platform.

One of its paying customers, a Web start-up called Animoto, helps Facebook users put their digital photos into an animated film that syncs pictures to music of their choice.

"That's computing-intensive on the back end to process those images," said Michael Crandell, founder and chief executive officer of RightScale. He said when Animoto launched, it was using six servers on Amazon. "Yesterday, they launched 4,000 servers with RightScale to offer that to Facebook users. Using RightScale, you pay for what you use."

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