Airgo Raises Another $20M

Former Clarity Wireless execs are working on what sounds like (yet) another WLAN switch

May 1, 2003

2 Min Read
Airgo Raises Another $20M

Startup Airgo Networks Inc. raised $20 million in a third funding round, the company announced yesterday, and by year's end plans to release what sounds like a wireless LAN switch (yes, another one).

The round includes one new investor -- OVP Venture Partners -- as well as previous investors Accel Partners, Nokia Venture Partners, and Sevin Rosen Funds. That brings the startup's total funding to $52 million.

Airgo company officials won't mutter the words "wireless LAN switch" out loud, but they're giving all the right signs for it [ed. note: place left thumb and forefinger behind... oh, never mind...].

They indicate that Airgo technology uses multiple antennas to extend the range and increase the capacity of a wireless LAN. Ergo: It could well be a wireless switch.

But Ergo, sorry, Airgo director of marketing Carl Temme says his company isn't doing a "$10,000 box with large antennas" -- the approach taken by others such as Vivato Inc. "That's a pretty primitive approach. It's been around 30 years in radar systems. It doesn't shift the economics." [Ed. note: No, but it might look really cool.]

Airgo claims to have a cheaper way to go but won't give specifics. "We'll be shipping before the end of the year," Temme says. (Vivato execs, scattering to the winds after Networld+Interop, couldn't be reached for comment.)

Obviously, Airgo isn't alone. Private companies building WLAN switches or similar beasts include Airespace Inc., AirFlow Networks, Aruba Networks Inc., Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL), and Trapeze Networks Inc., as well as Vivato.

Larger companies are getting into the game, too. Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) made its move last month (see So Extremely Sorry, Startups). And many are presuming Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has an entry on the way as well.

One thing Airgo might have going for it is experience -- as CEO Greg Raleigh has already created and sold a wireless technology company.

Raleigh's doctoral work at Stanford University concerned the use of multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antenna schemes in wireless networks. He and Stanford assistant professor V.K. Jones commercialized the technology by founding Clarity Wireless, acquired in 1998 by Cisco for $153 million.

Airgo started life in November 2000 as Woodside Networks, a name that apparently wasn't airy enough. The startup's 90-employee roster includes some wireless LAN veterans: Richard van Nee, who represented Bell Labs in the early stages of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 802.11 standard (and not to be confused with Bob von Elbow, whom we just made up), as well as engineers from Philips Electronics NV who helped build the radio for the first Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) AirPort devices.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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