Is Big Switch Prepping for an IPO?

SDN specialist Big Switch said Wednesday it's hiring a CFO -- often a prelude to companies getting ready for an IPO.

But don't mark your calendars just yet. Companies often take a year or two -- or more -- from hiring a CFO to initial public offering.

Big Switch Networks appointed Wendell Laidley CFO and also named Greg Orr as VP sales for the Americas.

Big Switch declined to comment on whether it's planning an IPO or M&A event. Laidley provides "seasoned financial and strategic leadership," needed as Big Switch grows, CEO Doug Murray said in an email.

Laidley was previously VP finance, investor relations and treasury at AppDynamics, during a time when employee headcount tripled and annual revenue increased nearly fourfold, Big Switch said in a statement. He was involved in AppDynamics' fundraising dating from 2014, most recently its Series F fundraising in November 2015, which totaled $158 million and put AppDynamics' valuation above $1.9 billion.

He worked in investment banking in equity research with Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse First Boston, and was involved in multiple IPOs and M&A transactions with a combined value of more than $43 billion, including the 1994 IPO of Veritas Software and 1998 IPO of Micromuse, Big Switch says.

Orr was VP sales at Arkin, which was acquired by VMware this year, and led enterprise and state and local government and education (SLED) revenue at Big Switch competitor Gigamon. He started as VP sales for the Americas at Big Switch in July, according to his LinkedIn profile. (See VMware Grabs Arkin for Data Center Automation.)

Earlier this year, Big Switch announced it had raised $48.5 million in Series C funding, with participation from new and existing investors, bringing the total to $89 million. The company says it has multiple customer deals in excess of $1 million, with customers in the US, APAC and EMEA, including tech, financial services, government, telecom and higher education organizations, such as the US federal government, Intuit, Clemson University and 15 major global telcos, including Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) (See SDN Startup Big Switch Lands $48.5M Funding.)

Big Switch was founded in 2010, in the first generation of SDN startups, and rode the hype wave that followed before crashing when SDN skepticism peaked. Murray took charge as CEO in late 2013 and focused the company on providing fabrics for clouds and network monitoring. (See Murray Leads Big Switch Into Bare Metal Battle.)

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If Big Switch can get to a successful IPO, it will be the rare example of a startup that gets a second chance.

Last week, Nutanix Inc. succeeded with its IPO, starting trading at $16 Friday and hitting $33.78 by midday. Like Big Switch, Nutanix specializes in data center infrastructure; Nutanix provides hyperconverged servers. (See Nutanix IPO Blesses Hyperconverged Data Centers.)

In addition to Laidley's experience in the technology and investment sectors, he is founder and CFO of Camp K-9 of Marin, a Marin County, Calif., dog care service, and former founder, CFO and COO of Realm Cellars, a Napa winery. He also speaks Japanese, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

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