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Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
2/23/2001
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Cratos Networks, the startup founded by networking wiz Sanjeev Newarikar and bankrolled by Comstellar Technologies Inc. VC and entrepreneur Raj Singh, is in the hunt for a piece of the metropolitan optical market.

The company plans to market a multiservice switching platform that promises to do a little bit of everything, including handling voice and data traffic, according to Newarikar.

Newarikar says the products will have the features available in the Core Director from Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), as well as the Sonet add-drop multiplexing functions available in the 15454 from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). It will also handle some edge routing functions for data traffic, like the SmartEdge product from Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK).

Adding an interesting spin to the story, Newarikar said the product will also support dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) and will be designed for expansion into the long-haul optical networking market, using DWDM to transport voice and data over long distances.

“Our first target is the metro market,” says Newarikar. “It’s easier to start small and scale large. The technology we are using isn’t mature enough for the long-haul market yet. But we’ll have something later in the year.”

The company is the latest in a complex and expanding family tree, all orginating from Fiberlane, the most valuable startup that never was. Fiberlane was split into three companies, Cerent, Siara, and Cyras, all of which eventually generated hot products that now respectively reside at Cisco, Redback Networks, and Ciena.

The main question about Cratos: Is there room for another?

Raj Singh apparently thinks so. Comstellar Technologies, a venture capital firm headed by Singh, one of Fiberlane’s founders, has bankrolled Cratos since April 2000, dishing out $8 million in its initial round and another $2 million or so in bridge loans (see Life-Long Incubator Launched).

Newarikar’s career history began in the early 1990s at Cisco. He later went to Fiberlane and then Ascend Communications (before Lucent Technologies Inc. [NYSE: LU] acquired the company in 1999), where he worked on multiprotocol label switching (MPLS).

According to Newarikar, the startup is already testing a prototype in its lab. The first product is expected to launch this summer.

In a little less than a year, Newarikar has hired 72 employees, most of whom are engineers. He expects that number to grow to at least 100 in the next month.

Newarikar has refused to publicly name several top executives, saying he fears they could be poached. These include a VP of engineering, whom he says comes from Unisphere Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: UNSP), and a director of hardware from Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). He even refuses to give out the exact location of a special development facility based outside of Boston, where he claims to have “the best optical minds” assembled.

Talent-hungry competing startups may not be the only threat on Cratos’s radar screen, as the company will also have to battle the stormy market conditions and proliferation of optical networking startups addressing the same metropolitan market.

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

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realdeal
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realdeal,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:36 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
Pretty funny piece. Cratos was formerly Yoda (sp?) networks and changed their name. And based on my records (conversations with people working at Cratos/Yoda) the company was formed in the late summer, early fall of 1999. 72 employees, 8 mil in funding and 2 mil in bridge loans- DOES NOT SOUND LIKE SUCH A SOLID PLAY TO ME WHEN YOU COMPARE THEM TO OTHER COMPANIES WHO HAVE STARTED AT THE SAME TIME.

Feedback from the Cratos folks on the above info?
Is my info not accurate?
optical-guy
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optical-guy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:35 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
With a total pot of $10Mil, they probably wont have the $ to even make a descent product. At least not one that could keep up with the likes of Cerent, Cyras or Siara. Not to mention some of the other premium startups out there that are a good ways along with product and funding.
fk
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fk,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:34 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
What does it say for a startup's prospects when the founder won't name executives for fear they will find greener pastures elsewhere? Either this startup has something going for it, or it doesn't. If it does, these key executives will have no motivation to go elsewhere. If it doesn't, then you might have to worry about them.

And as for "the best optical minds," that's cause for a good round of snickering. There's a lot of optical talent in the northeast, and ANYONE who thinks they have cornered the market in optical talent is fooling only himself.
KPSmells
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KPSmells,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:33 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
The founder, the investors of cratos are all a big joke. No talent and no proof that they ever built a successful product or a company in their past. Raj Singh: founder of cerent: Ha Ha Ha.....this is a big joke. Just ask Vinod Khosla !
notalent
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notalent,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:31 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
Word locally is that they can only attract the B- players to work for them. Does anyone know who that have on board that could deliver on their claim of a metro box?
alglin
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alglin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:28 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
I am surprised Cratos could hire anybody at all.

I interviewed with Yoda networks last year when they had only 6 employees, including the founders. I was so completely turned off by the attitude of the VP of Engineering I did not bother to go back for a second interview. Others who had interviewed with them also told me they were troubled by the personality of the management. Another friend was greatly disturbed as he felt the CTO did not have a good understand how the C compiler works (although I advised my friend that it was probably not the CTO's job to understand technology to that detail.)
realdeal
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realdeal,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:27 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
There is a reason they do not want to disclose who is on board. Kind of like trying to hide a nasty cold sore...
optiglut
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optiglut,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:25 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
I interviewed with this joker last year. Sanjeev told me he would "be looking over my shoulder to check my code." If this isn't a sure sign of a control freak I don't know what is. The sad thing is I was almost sold until meeting with sanjeev and his VP. Top talent or not, I feel sorry for the fools who have bet the farm on this one.
MSJ
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MSJ,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:25 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
This is another joke that is not gonna make it
opti fool
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opti fool,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 8:51:17 PM
re: Cratos Networks Tips Its Hand
I hear the Cratos box handles VOIP reasonably well (Cisco interoperable) and dispenses excellent capuccino.
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