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SDN Startup Raises $12 Million

Ray Le Maistre
11/28/2014

A company founded by a group of Stanford alumni with OpenFlow and SDN development experience has raised more than $11 million in funding from some significant investors.

Information is sparse about Forward Networks Inc., founded in July 2013. but its stated mission is to bring "the best ideas in Computer Science to networking," and to "dramatically improve networking for companies of all sizes."

The startup has raised almost $12 million, with the majority of that, $11.15 million, coming in a round that was raised over the past five weeks. The company's initial $825,000 of funding was raised in September 2013.

In addition to several unidentified "luminaries in the networking and systems space," Forward Networks' investors include: Andreessen Horowitz, which boasts Facebook, Twitter, Nicira and Cumulus Networks among its investment portfolio; SV Angel (Cloudera, Twilio, Pinterest); and relative newcomer A Capital Partners, which was founded by former Andreessen Horowitz partner Ronny Conway.

Andreesen Horowitz in particular has a good track record with SDN-related investments. Nicira, for example, is the Stanford-bred SDN startup that was acquired by VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) for more than $1 billion shortly after it emerged from stealth. (See VMware to Buy SDN Startup for More Than $1B.)

Now Andreesen Horowitz and its fellow investors are funding another company with Stanford in its DNA.

The four founders at Forward Networks are:

  • David Erickson, founder & CEO: A Computer Science PhD from Stanford, he is a contributor to the OpenFlow specifications and the author of Beacon, the OpenFlow controller at the heart of products developed by Big Switch Networks , where he worked briefly as a member of the technical staff, and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), where he spent several months as an intern in 2008.

  • Nikhil Handigol, founder: A Computer Science PhD from Stanford, where he was part of the team that "pioneered SDN/OpenFlow." According to his biography, he built SDN-based network assurance platform NetSight, and helped to develop virtual network emulator Mininet and load-balancing tool Aster*x.

  • Brandon Heller, founder: Also a Computer Science PhD from Stanford, Heller was working on OpenFlow "before it had that name," and was the main editor of the specification for three years. He also spent a few months at the Platforms and Networking unit of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) as an intern, working on the web giant's SDN developments.

  • Peyman Kazemian, founder: An Electrical Engineering PhD from Stanford, his expertise is in network assurance and troubleshooting. His internships include stints at Google and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), where he focused on "MPLS support for OpenFlow on NetFPGA."


    Want to know more about the emerging SDN market? Check out our dedicated SDN content channel here on Light Reading.


    Now the company is hiring and looking for various experienced staff, including a "network engineer who has administered data center or service provider networks with more than 100 networking devices."

    News of Forward Networks' funding comes only weeks after reports suggested that SDN vendor NetSocket was struggling to stay in business. (See Is SDN Vendor Netsocket Dead? )

    — Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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    Mitch Wagner
    Mitch Wagner
    12/3/2014 | 8:32:51 PM
    Late
    Seems late in the day to launch an SDN startup. We're going to see consolidation in 2015.
    sam masud
    sam masud
    12/2/2014 | 2:45:58 PM
    Pedigree!
    Considering that SDN came mostly out of Stanford, these folks certainly have the right pedigree.
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