Optical/IP Networks

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

jacksullivan66 12/5/2012 | 12:07:49 AM
re: Airgo Raises Another $20M Does anybody really know what's going on inside Airgo? What exactly are they building? Any spies want to speak up? Nice piece of writing, Mr. Matsumoto - but I grabbed all the same info off their website...

Some of the things that caught my eye from their press releases:
"dramatically improves the speed, range,
and reliability"
"is years ahead of the competition"
"will cause a sea change in the WLAN
"competitors, both large and small, don't
have the capability to duplicate"
"at least several years ahead of the curve"

Now I know VCs pretty well, and although they like to prop up their portfolio companies with flowery verb'age, they are usually VERY hesitant to throw out comments like the ones above. And those are quotes!

Normally you hear 6 months, maybe a year ahead of the market... But "several years"!?!?! Somebody smart tell me what technology advance could excite a conservative VC to say that?

I think Airgo is going to suprise EVERYBODY with their technology - including the new switch guys who aren't even shipping product yet...

One other question - I heard an unsubstantiated rumor that Cisco was an early investor? True? Somebody please confirm either way... Thanks.
Matthew Cramer 12/5/2012 | 12:06:18 AM
re: Airgo Raises Another $20M >Does anybody really know what's going on inside >Airgo? What exactly are they building?

likely some sort of world-killing death ray, methinks
joset01 12/5/2012 | 12:06:17 AM
re: Airgo Raises Another $20M Yep, that's what I heard, I believe the CEO wants one million dollars [insert evil laugh].

Seriously, if you can the thesis he worked on at Stanford I believe that contains your answer.

DJ Unstrung
Alistair_Mutch 12/5/2012 | 12:04:51 AM
re: Airgo Raises Another $20M
I was told the local wildlife look slightly nervous and glow in the dark. Amazing things can done with good RF skills eh ?

Then again my friend maybe slightly touched...

wonderfull 12/5/2012 | 12:04:30 AM
re: Airgo Raises Another $20M MIMO base WiFi chipsets..could have migrated towards switches as well.

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