Ocular Gets $30M in Second Round

Frugal startup doesn't need a trophy round, it claims

January 12, 2001

3 Min Read
Ocular Gets $30M in Second Round

Ocular Networks Inc. announced a second round of funding today worth $30 million, bringing the total raised so far to $50 million. The round was led by JAFCO Ventures with Comdisco Ventures, joining former investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, and Highland Capital Partners.

At first glance $30 million doesn’t sound like much of a round, compared to other startups over the past year that have brought in $60 to $100 million, but those days of huge funding rounds could be over, say experts.

“Thirty million isn’t bad by today’s standards,” says Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects Inc. “You have to understand that valuations aren’t what they used to be. And you have to realize that they didn’t have to give a lot away either.”

In fact, Ocular is in better shape than a lot of other companies seeking larger amounts. The company’s founder, president, and CEO Ed Kennedy has been very thrifty with the company’s initial $20 million in funding. With roughly 140 employees, Ocular has been able to build a product and get it into beta trials while still having money left in the bank.

“As far as startups go, they are pretty far along,” says Grier Hansen, an analyst with Current Analysis. “It’s a good sign, considering that it’s taking some companies with a lot more money much longer to get anything out the door.”

While most would agree that there is plenty of money available, venture capitalists are being more cautious about whom they give it to and how much they give at a time. And it seems that having prudent managers in charge of handling the cash has become one of the more important things investors look for.

“We’ve been very efficient with our funds,” says Kennedy. “I think that’s part of the reason our investors decided to invest. If you mismanage the money, you have to keep going back for more, and if you haven’t hit any milestones it’s harder and harder to raise the cash.”

Even though Ocular hasn’t announced a product yet, it has announced its architecture. Essentially, it’s developing a multiservice switch that the company claims is "protocol agnostic." This means that it has a single switch fabric, which handles IP (Internet protocol), ATM (asynchronous transfer mode), and TDM (time-division multiplexing) traffic natively (see Ocular Sees a Single Fabric). This is a more flexible and inexpensive way for carriers to offer both data and voice services to end users, says Doug Green, VP of marketing for Ocular.

“Carriers are not ready to rip out their voice infrastructures to put in something new,” says Green. “It’s like when you remodel a house. You can’t tear it down, because you still have to live there. So you need to make the changes in a way that still makes the house liveable.”

Ocular says it has already started trialing the product in beta sites and expects to make a product announcement in the next few months.

“We’ve tried to stay stealthy until we can make an announcement with more teeth in it,” says Kennedy. “But you won’t have to wait too much longer.”

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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