UPDATE 2-Violin Memory eyes IPO as early as December
* Company sees IPO between December and April
* To shop bankers in September
* Would follow competitor Fusion-io's strong debut (Rewrites first paragraph, adds background on sector, byline)
SAN FRANCISCO, July 19 (Reuters) - Flash memory storage provider Violin Memory could launch its initial public offering between December and April, Chief Executive Donald Basile said on Tuesday, as the rush to snap up technology start-ups shows no signs of waning.
Along with Fusion-io FIO.N, which last month held a well-received IPO, Violin Memory is part of a fast-growing niche as corporations look to flash memory chips to speed up data centers that for decades have depended on slower hard drives and storage tape.
"We'll do our banker selection in September so we'll be ready for our potential public offering," said Basile, who was formerly the chief executive of Fusion-io. "The earliest would be December -- somewhere between December and April."
He told Reuters the success of Fusion-io's stock market debut and excitement around daily-deal company Groupon, which like Violin Memory has a short revenue track record, were factors in leaning toward an IPO rather than toward being acquired.
Violin Memory, which makes arrays of flash memory chips for data centers and is backed by Toshiba Corp (6502.T) and Juniper Networks (JNPR.N), recently raised additional funds valuing it at $440 million.
Retrieving data from flash memory chips is much faster and more energy efficient than from hard drives, which use needles to read data from spinning metal disks.
While storing data on flash chips is still expensive compared to hard drives, IT executives see the extra cost as worthwhile for functions where speed is important -- like operating social media websites or banking transactions.
Shares of Fusion-io have surged about 22 percent since the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company's share offer in June.
Other players in flash chip enterprise storage include Texas Memory Systems, OCZ Technology OCZ.O and STEC Inc STEC.O.
Groupon, which started in 2008 and has yet to make profit, has filed to raise $750 million in an IPO. (Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Derek Caney, Bernard Orr)