Stoke & Samsung: Million-Dollar Buddies

Samsung Venture Investment Corp. 's $5 million strategic investment in Stoke Inc. speaks more to Samsung Corp. 's ambitions to be a major infrastructure vendor for Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks than any need for money at the profitable gateway vendor, Stoke's CEO tells LR Mobile. Vikash Varma says that Samsung wants to take it to Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Networks as networks evolve to 4G. (See Samsung Puts Ericsson & NSN on Notice.)

"Samsung has ambitions to be in the top three LTE suppliers," he says.

For Samsung, this means working with partners -- like Stoke -- to build out its 4G portfolio. "I totally expect us to move to a deeper partnership," Varma explains, noting that the pair have already worked together on company accounts.

Specifically, he sees Samsung's small cell portfolio as very compatible with Stoke's high-capacity packet data gateway. The advent of small cells -- tiny radios that sit at the edge of the network to boost data speed and capacity -- will lead to networks that need to support "tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands" of encrypted connections for VoIP, video and Internet sessions over the air.

This is why Samsung is putting "a small strategic round" into Stoke that will be officially announced Wednesday, Varma says. "[We] don't need money for operational reasons, we've been profitable for the last six quarters," Varma says.

The 8-year-old Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has raised $97 million since its inception. Varma says that the company isn't currently looking for an exit.

"We're not looking to get acquired," the CEO states, adding that the company has no plans for an IPO yet either. Back in August 2011, he had said that an IPO might be a "possibility" in 2013.

The company's growth has been helped by Stoke's deal with NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM). "They're certainly the biggest but not the only one," Varma notes.

Of course, he can't reveal what other carrier deals have been signed.

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— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:27:35 PM
re: Stoke & Samsung: Million-Dollar Buddies

It would be really intriguing to see Samsung take on AlcaLu, Ericsson, etc.  Teaming up with Stoke seems like a good place to start.

Infrastructure is a tough business, though. (See: earnings from AlcaLu, Ericsson, etc.) Wonder what Samsung will bring that others won't.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:27:34 PM
re: Stoke & Samsung: Million-Dollar Buddies

Remember they already have a deal as one of the suppliers of Sprint's Network Vision program.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:27:16 PM
re: Stoke & Samsung: Million-Dollar Buddies

Also, if Samsung gets bigger in infrastructure that puts them in an, er, interesting position. Could they put features in networks to work faster with their own smartphones?


Just thinking aloud...

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