Funding for startups

Huber Extends His Reach

David Huber, the secretive CEO and founder of Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV) and previously the founder of Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), has a full plate these days, running a startup in the wake of one of the most successful IPOs in networking history (see Avici and Corvis Make Stunning Debuts). But that's not stopping him from getting involved in a series of other projects.

Indeed, the elusive Doctor Dave (Huber holds a PhD) has his finger in a number of pies: In addition to Corvis, he's backing a hot new venture capital company called Optical Capital Group (OCG), which in turn is funding several optical startups. OCG also has started an incubator facility for some of its hottest properties. And rumor has it Huber's involved in several international ventures as well.

Citing the need for discretion pending a new round of funding, OCG says it's too soon to give away much information on its doings. However, it acknowledges investments in the following companies:

  • Cidra Corp., which makes components for DWDM gear
  • Codeon Corp., a maker of "high-speed" optical components
  • Hyperchip Inc., a "petabit router" company (see Hyperchip Hypes Its Hardware)
  • Nufern, an Australian manufacturer of specialty fiber
  • Pivotech Systems Inc., a maker of CLEC switches with DSL capabilities
  • Yotta Yotta, an optical network storage startup The inclusion of components, telecom gear, and storage software seems to reflect a thoughtful effort to get together a group of companies that can ultimately benefit one another through partnerships, some of them international: Hyperchip's in Montreal; Yotta Yotta's based in Edmonton, Alberta, as well as Seattle; and Nufern is located in Eveleigh, Australia. (Incidentally, one company, named Sparkolor, also is listed by OCG, although no information could be found on it at press time.)

    As to why OCG won't give out a full portfolio list, John Spirtos, OCG's vice chairman, says that several companies are in the OCG incubator, and "it's too soon to talk about them."

    The said incubator is a 60,000-square-foot office facility in Columbia, Md., that OCG is just now populating with three to four startups that have "technically difficult" propositions and need to focus on developing them. For these kinds of startups, usually headed up by technical wizards who don't necessarily want to run their own companies, OCG offers office space, lab space, and administrative support, to be followed eventually with management help.

    There may be other reasons, however, why OCG won't mention all of the startups it backs. Some may be too central to Huber's overall strategy.

    One such company is Iolon Inc., which announced a 1x4 optical switch component at NFOEC. Since Light Reading speculated that Iolon's developments might form the guts of Corvis's switch (see Corvis's Secret Sauce?), both companies have removed any evidence of their association from their respective Web sites.

    Spokespeople for David Huber directed interview requests back to OCG. Also, they said he was traveling at press time and could not comment.

    -- Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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