Ironbridge 'Sold for Parts'
The remains of IronBridge Networks Inc. could be sold to the highest bidder.
Former employees of the company, which recently closed its doors and laid off employees in what seems a last-ditch effort to save the business (see IronBridge Has Fallen Down), say that two companies are bidding for the company's intellectual property. That includes a portfolio of about 34 patents and a "very good switching and routing software stack."
"When the story broke that we were in trouble, people started coming around. About one or two companies who'd been direct competitors have bid on the assets," said one ex-employee, who asked not to be named. "The software could save a startup a significant amount of time and money." Ironbridge could not be reached for comment on the alleged bidding.
Experts say there's no way to tell how much the assets could fetch. "There is no answer to the question of how to price intellectual property," says Judith Mayer O'Brien, attorney with the firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rossati.
O'Brien, who specializes in helping technology companies with corporate issues and has worked with Avanex Corp. (Nasdaq: AVNX), Brightlink Networks Inc., and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), says there's no norm. "It depends on the value of the patents, who's willing to bid on them. In some cases, the value of a company's intellectual property after bankruptcy goes down to very little. In others, four or five companies bid and raise the price. There's just no answer to this question."
Meantime, Ironbridge's other assets have been less tough to value. As the laid-off workers exited the Ironbridge offices, a recruiter from Équipe Communications Corp. was waiting in the parking lot with a banner, in hopes of gaining some new blood (see IronBridge's Loss is Équipe's Gain).
Equipe wasn't alone. Turin Networks Inc., a startup developing an optical edge product, says it had hired a key senior software engineer (name withheld by Turin) from Ironbridge to head up the Turin Boston office some weeks before Ironbridge's troubles came to a head. In the weeks that followed, more engineers joined him as the hatch opened up at Ironbridge.
Turin won't say just how many folk it hired, but admits that it's now staffed its Boston office with Ironbridge refugees. And company spokespeople say they're proud that they didn't have to run over there with a banner. "Our approach was more passive," says a spokesman.
What's happened to the Ironbridge assets isn't unique. As market pressures put a host of other startups into deep waters (see Shutdowns Send Dark Message), it looks like a scenario that's going to get increasingly common.
-- Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com