Leading Lights Startups Gain Ground
A strong crop of five finalists graces the Best New Startup category of this year's Leading Lights awards, and Light Reading took time recently to check in on them. (See The 2008 Leading Lights Finalists.)
All startups claim to be making fantastic progress, and our finalists were no exceptions. But we found some satisfying evidence that most of them are on the right track.
You can judge for yourself, of course -- and, until noon Eastern time today, you're welcome to vote for the companies you think deserve to be winners. Just click on this link NOW.
Thousands of votes have already been cast, and for most of the week the Best Startup category showed a near five-way dead heat, until Menara Networks managed to pull ahead of the pack with 38 percent of the vote, followed by FastSoft Inc. at 27 percent. It appears one of those two will at least win the (non-binding!) readers' vote, unless another startup trades for Manny Ramirez or something.
Considering we wrote about these guys just a month ago, there's probably not much to update. The company's speedier alternative to TCP has amassed an interesting cast of customers during the past year, including Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). (See FastSoft Wants CDNs and FastSoft Inc..)
You'll recall Microsoft Adds More Security APIs to Windows pitched its OTN transceivers early this year. (See Menara Pitches OTN Advances.) Since then, it's gotten six customers into lab trials and has another 12 approaching that point.
A limited-tunability version fitting the XFP module standard began sampling just three weeks ago. That's later than some might have expected, considering the XFP module was demonstrated at OFC/NFOEC in February, but Menara was busy completing a customized module for a large customer that CEO Siraj Nour El-Ahmadi won't name.
He adds that Menara, which typically sells to systems vendors, is starting to hear from cable operators too. "We've been getting a lot of pull from the end customers who want to put us directly in lab trials," he says.
Spinning off from Sky last year gave Miniweb Interactive a head start that's translated into 9 million viewers. The startup's platform for delivering interactive TV features is intended to be usable in any carrier network, so the next trick is for Miniweb to secure some other operators as customers.
A $32 million infusion, Miniweb's first venture money, is intended for just that purpose. CEO Andrew Carver -- who's a recent Miniweb infusion himself -- tells Light Reading that the recent IBC tradeshow in Amsterdam, which represented Miniweb's first real marketing splash, brought in all sorts of prospects, but he admits they'll take time to translate into customer wins. (See Miniweb Bags $32M and Miniweb Appoints CEO.)
"We are in discussions with two other players with fairly significant subscriber bases," he says.
Customer leads aren't the only things Miniweb is picking up. A nasty virus raged through the company's marketing ranks and its outside PR firm this week, which is why Carver himself ended up returning Light Reading's call.
This one's easy: They still won't tell us what they're up to (although Nan Chen says "Hi").
The big challenge for Sezmi Corp. is to launch a commercial trial of its TV service, which it hopes to pitch to carriers as an alternative to IPTV. (See Sezmi Aims Beyond IPTV.)
Dave Allred, senior vice president of marketing, notes that the service is already in some technical trials. But as for a pilot launch that involves end users, we'll just have to wait and see. Allred says Sezmi is readying some announcements.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading