WWP Bags $25.5M More
World Wide Packets Inc. (WWP) has scored another round of funding, this time in the amount of $25.5 million, the company announced today. This new round brings the total amount raised to about $140 million.
The round was led by new investors Eagle River Holdings, LLC, one of Craig McCaw's investment companies, and Rally Capital, LLC, an investment fund founded this year and headed by Eagle River's former president, a McCaw empire insider, Dennis Weibling. The existing investors include Argo Global Capital LLC, Azure Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group LLC, Northwest Venture Associates, and Entrepia Ventures.
WWP has managed to thrive, even though the company had to change strategies a couple of years ago to doing more than just hooking up municipal access networks. "It's taking too long for a company like mine or any other to target only municipalities," says WWP CEO Dave Curry.
Curry says municipalities are burdened with expensive legal battles in several markets as incumbent carriers fight the trend of cities allegedly using public monies to compete with private enterprises. (See Municipal Broadband Networks.)
So, two years ago, WWP began exploring other opportunities -- like helping carriers to connect business customers -- in addition to its pursuit of fiber-to-the-premises deals with municipalities and utilities with its switched Ethernet gear. And according to Curry, who invested around $5 million of his own money in the company several years back, WWP's carrier Ethernet strategy is paying off.
Curry, in fact, says Telewest Communications Networks plc (Nasdaq: TWSTY) and ntl group ltd. (Nasdaq: NTLI) picked WWP's gear over comparable offerings from , , Atrica Inc., Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), and Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY). And, it should be noted, the story of WWP's success in Europe was broken by Light Reading back in 2003. (See World Wide Packets out of the Woods.)
Anyway, Curry also says that WWP has cable deployments in the U.S., though he's not willing to divulge the customer names. There's no word yet on how Ericsson AB's purchase of Marconi Corp. plc will affect WWP's European business, but that's not the end of WWP's big vendor connections. Curry adds that WWP has recently secured a "Tier 1 equipment partner" based in the U.S., which he says gives WWP a "global OEM relationship."
All this activity and carrier interest has made it possible for WWP to scare up more funding and that, natch, begins to raise questions about how long WWP can make it as a privately held company. WWP has increased its revenues every year since 2001, according to Curry, but he says they've "never grown as much as we'd like."
He also adds that his job is to create as much value in the company as he can, so he's "not out there actively selling the business," despite his sizable personal stake.
Though WWP once employed more than 230, the now 135-person company says it expects to have about 150 on its roster by the end of the first quarter of 2006.
— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading
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