Optical/IP Networks

Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25

The "Unstrung 25" started life as a list of interesting startups and entrepreneurs, but now it's taken on a different guise -- a couple of guises, in fact. We've already unveiled one of them: our list of the top 25 public companies, whose shares we track in the Unstrung Index. Now we're gearing up to unveil our second Unstrung 25 -- of private companies.

Our first official list will be published next month, but we want to get the ball rolling now on the selection process. More specifically, we want to get input on what startups you consider to be particularly hot -- hot meaning that they have the best chance of hitting the jackpot in terms of getting bought for megabucks or being suitable fodder for an eventual IPO, if and when that idea comes back into fashion.

Our Unstrung 25 list of top private companies is going to be a little different from the Unstrung 25 lists of old. For a kickoff, we're carving it up into five categories, so only five startups in a particular market will be able to call themselves an "Unstrung Hero." We're also going to make a bigger thing out of explaining why Company X is ranked second while Company Y is third, to spice things up a bit.

Our Unstrung Heroes are also going to have to keep on their toes. We're planning to add new startups to the Top 5 lists in each market segment whenever we feel like it (which is likely to be often). And of course, when we add a startup, we'll have to drop one. Won't that be agonizing?

In order to get things started and stir up some controversy, we're unveiling our five categories and some possible candidates for Unstrung Hero honors in this article. This is just to get the discussion going. Nothing is set in stone.

What you need to do
Comment on our tentative picks on the message board at the foot of this story.

We also encourage you to propose alternative candidates on the message board, but if you do so, please follow these rules:
  • Name the market category
  • Give your reasons for proposing a company
  • Don't post propaganda from marketing literature
  • Don't propose stealth-mode startups that won't disclose what they're developing
  • Make it brief
  • Name the company that should be dropped to make way for your proposal
  • Don't send us private proposals; post them on the message board so they can be discussed in public.

    We also encourage all readers to rate posts, giving the lowest rating (1) to messages that make no serious case for a company or ramble on interminably. We'll delete messages that waste readers' time.

    So, here are the categories and our tentative contenders. Let us know what you think.

    Service Providers
    We're not just talking mobile operators here. This could be any sort of service provider making its mark with wireless technology, from WLANs to virtual mobile network operators to companies that provide services to the wireless operators themselves.

    Some of the possible contenders in this category are:

    Boingo Wireless Inc. -- A wow in WiFi.
    Telephia Inc. -- Data delivery and services to the wireless community.
    airBand Communication Inc. -- Wireless broadband for businesses.
    Megabeam -- Bringing 802.11 to Europe.
    Monzoon Networks AG -- Making sure the Swiss don't miss out on WLAN access.

    Solid kit is what we're talking about here. Boxes shipped in boxes. Who could make it into this Top 5?

    MeshNetworks Inc. -- If Bluetooth/802.11b mesh network kit is your bag.
    Flarion Technologies -- OFDM base station meisters. Has trials with Nextel.
    ArrayComm Inc. -- Spectral efficiency kit. Helped persuade the FCC to have a TDD auction this year.
    Tahoe Networks -- Wireless Internet hardware. Cited as key competitor by Cisco (or so we hear).
    Cambridge Positioning Systems -- Location-based services kit for the network.

    But it doesn't include components companies because…

    …they have their own Top 5! Processors, antennas, et al. Names in the frame are:

    Atheros Communications -- Multimode chipmaker. Has Intel as a customer.
    CSR -- Bluetooth gurus in the semiconductor field.
    SkyCross Inc. -- Adaptive antennas that can cover 2GHz-5GHz for devices.
    XtremeSpectrum -- New on the scene, making ultrawideband chips.
    Ashvattha Semiconductor -- GSM/GPRS/GPS/Bluetooth, all on one chip.

    Then we break into the wonderful world of software, with a double-whammy for the writers of code.

    Software I: Applications and Development
    There are plenty of you out there, selling service delivery solutions, developing the software for the applications developers, and, of course, creating the applications themselves. So come on, don't be shy! Up for consideration are:

    Webraska Mobile Technologies SA -- Merger with AirFlash added "software application development platform."
    PacketVideo Corp. -- Strong partnership program and impressive customer list.
    Digital Bridges Ltd. -- Games and entertainment delivery platform and games publishing. Backed by Apax Partners.
    Air2Web Inc. -- Application delivery platform targeted at enterprise customers.
    Seven Networks Inc. -- You can’t sniff at deals with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Cingular Wireless, and Sprint PCS (NYSE: PCS).

    And where would the wireless carriers be without their back-office software?

    Software II: OSS, Billing, CRM
    That's right: the sector known as "dull but worthy" by those not working in it, and "absolutely essential to the operators and service providers -- and it's not as unsexy as many people think" to those on the inside.

    So we want to know which companies have the best packages for wireless service providers. Knocking on the door in this category are:

    Cerillion Technologies Ltd. -- Creating a niche with billing systems for the smaller mobile operator.
    Cellglide -- Traffic management is its game.
    Am-Beo -- Rating and revenue chain management specialists.
    Watchmark Corp. -- Service assurance, with some big name customers.
    Cramer Systems -- One for the wireless engineers: hardcore OSS for wireless nets.

    So get on the message boards, if you think you've got what it takes! Keep an eye out for the first rankings next month.

    — The Staff, Unstrung
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    wwwcdmasoftwarecom 12/5/2012 | 1:31:39 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 Software for CDMA phones - under the most favourable price (ESN/A-key/SSD_a/SSD_b-Changers, Unlockers, Firmware, etc.). Pinouts, Circuits of cables. The menu of programming and other. http://cdmasoftware.com
    spc_canute 12/5/2012 | 12:28:12 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 While I was looking for more information about Elata I cam across this sorry piece of marketing masquerading as an email.

    The author urges us to watch his company: "Definitely one to watch in the months ahead.". Sadly, there has been little to watch since the Hutchinson 3G deal (any revenue yet?)- which predated the 6/28/2002 message. OK, there was the non corroborated Amena story. The Hutch deal gave the company a PR injection. And it rightly milked the PR opportunity but Elata has since robustly failed to make an impression. Its competitors have secured numerous deals. The company lacks clarity of vision and a sense of purpose. Its web pages give an impression of an immature dot com focused around technology with little understanding of the market place. And even at that it isn't a technology leader (not that it needs to be to be the leader to be successful).

    CEO, Freed, look at your technical/marketing team and do something or you'll be goners. The market is tough but that is no excuse: Hackneyed cliches and grandslamming are no substitute for understanding customers and having a viable business.

    NokiaBo1 12/5/2012 | 12:28:09 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 I can only find demos - where can I get hold of this?
    Paul2000 12/5/2012 | 12:11:45 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 Heard elata is finally closing down after failing in its efforts to get new funding!
    Well, it was expected. How long can a spin docter employing 50 guys last with limited resources? The company was known as hype masters with a dotcom management who did not have a clue about the mobile industry or OTA provisioning space.
    They have done everything except commercially deploying their platform while all the others in the industry have been quietly gaining new operators.
    Their al-Sahaf alias CEO has been saying since 2001 that they have some trials with some very big operators. Probably the longest trial ever.
    Elata also has a marketing guy called Mat Hoopster who went around saying G«£Operators have to decide now or they will die! G«£
    IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 12:11:43 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 We're looking into this. Paul2000, do you have any information to back-up what you've heard?
    Gavin Freed 12/5/2012 | 12:11:42 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 The fact that a likely competitor (Paul 2000) is spending so much time posting the same message on multiple boards, suggests he can't be very busy. Conversely, as the mobile provisioning space heats up, elata remains in good financial health.

    In terms of customers, Amena in Spain has commercially deployed and launched services using elata senses software (covered by Unstrung), to join 3's global affiliates and, although currently unannounced, elata are deploying the platform commercially where it has already been selected over competitive offerings.

    Gavin Freed
    CEO - elata
    jacksullivan66 12/5/2012 | 12:11:17 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 IG«÷m surprised you have a Bluetooth company in the "Components" spaceG«™ With UWB on the horizon, Bluetooth will literally be dead within four years, so I'm not sure how that makes for good business prospects.

    Drop CSR, and add another UWB silicon startup - a fabless semi called Discrete Time Communications. DTC is bleeding G«£early stageG«• and still seeking their first institutional round, but the two founders there were pioneers in UWB at Fantasma Networks three years before Xtreme Spectrum was even founded. Fantasma unfortunately went out of business because they were simply too early (the FCC took their time approving UWB), but only after 50+ patents were issued and pioneering work was done. Then as consultants, they helped turn General Atomics into a significant UWB player (GA and Philips announced in Jan a deal to co-develop UWB chipsets). Since founding DTC late last year, theyG«÷ve gotten themselves cozy with IntelG«÷s informal G«£multi-bandG«• consortium, and DTCG«÷s CEO is widely respected within the UWB community as well as within the IEEEG«÷s 802.15.3a TG thatG«÷s currently evaluating UWB.

    Taking your criteria, G«£a chance of hitting the jackpot in terms of getting bought for megabucksG«™G«•, IG«÷d put these guys in that category. There are two camps within the 802.15.3a TG currently duking it out for standard supremacy - one lead by Intel and one by Xtreme Spectrum. If Intel wins (who wants to bet against that?), DTCG«÷s one of only two silicon startups already in IntelG«÷s camp. That hints of acquisition to meG«™
    jacksullivan66 12/5/2012 | 12:11:16 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 IG«÷m surprised to see you have absolutely nothing representing the RFID space. Today, passive tags are creating an evolution in the supply chain G«Ű tomorrow, truly G«£activeG«• RFID tags will completely rewrite the business processes and workflow patterns within the entire supply chain.

    IG«÷d suggest a PHY player, but they are all larger companies. So no matter who wins at the tag layer, check out GlobeRanger (backed by Sevin Rosen and Center Point with a $10.8M A Round). They have just demoG«÷d a software application at Microsoft's Mobility Developers Conference that enables the efficiencies of G«£wirelessG«• to the process of capturing RFID data within the enterprise G«Ű turning this data into information - then tying this info into backend enterprise systems. In real-timeG«™

    No matter what hardware wins in this space, the software player that best facilitates the seamless transition of emerging RFID processes into the enterprise will be a huge winnerG«™ Every enterprise that deals with physical goods will be impacted by RFID within the next several yearsG«™ Tying this into existing enterprise systems will be a huge opportunity, and GlobeRanger is positioned well.
    spc_myles_telos 12/5/2012 | 12:11:10 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 company down the street from us is doing well in RFID...

    i guess if it doesn't have the word bluetooth or wifi maybe it's not sexy enough ;)
    IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 12:11:08 AM
    re: Privates on Parade: The Unstrung Top 25 I share your enthusiasm for UWB, but I think maybe folk are a bit optimistic about the time frame.

    High-end consumer electronics (flat screen TVs and set-top boxes) will probably be the first applications to be targeted because they are expensive enough to absorb the price of the UWB chipset.

    Initially (end-2004, 2005) it seems that the UWB chipset will cost more than a Bluetooth or 802.11 alternative, if only because mass-production will take some time to ramp up.

    The impression I get is that the price, size and power metrics of the first generation of UWB chipsets probably wonG«÷t be good enough to put in cell phones and PC peripherals.

    To date I think thereG«÷s something like 31 different proposals before the IEEE TG 802.15.3a, which makes it tricky to pick a winner among the several UWB start-ups. Everybody is now waiting for the first G«£down-selectG«• vote at the 802.15.3a meeting in July.

    People IG«÷ve spoken with are hoping that only 10 (or less) proposals will be left on the table after this meeting. They are fearful that the standards process will drag on for an eternity.

    We already have XtremeSpectrum (and Skycross, which does UWB antenna) in the Unstrung 25, but certainly Discrete Time (Roberto Aiello and friends) are well-regarded by their peers.

    IG«÷d be interested to hear your views on multi-band (Intel et al.) versus dual-band (Xtreme, Motorola, etc). The UWB standards battle for looks like itG«÷s going to get messy.
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