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LaCie merges with online-storage start-up Wuala

External-storage specialist LaCie acquires Caleido, the Swiss creator of the online-storage service Wuala, to expand its storage options into the cloud market.

LaCie, known in the United States for its external-storage products such as the LaCie Biggest, announced on Thursday its merger with Caleido, the Swiss creator of an online storage service called Wuala.

The move is a sign that LaCie intends to enter the cloud storage service market.

Unlike the established LaCie, which was founded in France in 1989, Wuala is still a relatively new start-up. Before the merger, the company's personnel included just 11 people, including two part-timers. Nonetheless, Wuala has gained substantial traction with tens of thousands of users, mostly Europeans.

Wuala's service include innovative online storage that allows its users to store, back up, access, and share files with one another from anywhere in the world. Users start with 1GB of storage but can get as much as they want, either by trading idle disk space or by buying additional storage.

According to Philippe Spruch, founder and CEO of LaCie, the merger would allow LaCie to use Wuala's innovative online-storage solution to transform the company from a hardware manufacturer to a comprehensive digital-storage provider.

Cloud storage has become a big trend with the involvement of many storage and networking vendors, such as Netgear, with its new ReadyNAS Vault, or Marvell, with the Sheeava computer.