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M-Files raises $80m to expand information storage system

The company wants to move away from the file-based system that's become the norm

By Freya Pratty

Finnish startup M-Files has raised $80m in new funding for its content management tool, which aims to change the way information is stored, moving away from the file-based system that has become the norm. 

The company’s funding round was led by growth capital firm Bregal Milestone and brings the total money raised by M-Files, launched in 2012, to $127m.

Antti Nivala, founder and CEO of M-Files, perceived the need for a new filing system when he set out helping his father find software for his business. 

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“My father’s architectural and engineering business was dealing with construction projects and had a lot of documents to file,” he says.

“I looked around for existing software but couldn’t find any that was suitable, so I came up with the metadata filing approach that M-Files uses.

Most users store their documents and information in files on a computer or shared system within a company. M-Files works differently, storing information in a pool which users search based on metadata.

When a user inputs a document into the system, they tag specific data about it, so when the file is needed users search M-Files for a keyword and find the documents.

For example, M-Files is used by a management consultant business which tags their documents with the name of clients and the project they’re involved in. When a user wants to search for a document relating to a client, they search the whole system for that client name and all documents related appear, instead of having to find the relevant folder. 

“This way a user doesn’t need to know where information is stored, they just need to search the system for it, it manages data based on what it is rather than where it is stored,” Nivala explains. “We are no longer tied to folders, we can enable browsing across multiple information.”

M-Files is currently used by several thousand customers across 100 countries and in the accounting, tax advisory, manufacturing and life sciences industries in particular. 

The startup currently has 500 employees, mainly located in Finland, the US and the UK. The new funding will be used to expand the team, largely across software development and sales and marketing.

Nivala explains that the coronavirus pandemic has increased the use case for the system, and he anticipates this continuing. 

“I think the pandemic has shifted M-Files from a tool that’s nice to have, to a tool that’s necessary,” he says. “2020 was a year of significant growth for us because the system helps people to work together from anywhere, remotely.”

Freya Pratty covers news at Sifted. She tweets from @FPratty

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