Reeves Seeds Mangrove Systems
Jonathan Reeves, the Sirocco Systems founder with a penchant for Hawaiian shirts, has bootstrapped another new startup with a tropical motif. Wallingford, Conn.-based Mangrove Systems Inc. has raised $3.1 million in seed money from its founders -- Reeves, Richard Barnett, and John Hannon -- and Bessemer Venture Partners.
Reeves founded Sahara Networks in 1995, and his company was acquired by Cascade Communications about 18 months later. He founded Sirocco Systems in 1999, and it was acquired by Sycamore Networks about 18 months later (see Sycamore Takes Over Sirocco ). This time around, however, it might take Mangrove 18 months just to figure out exactly what business it wants to be in.
"There's no urgency to do something right away," says Tim Kraskey, managing director of YankeeTek Ventures and founder, with Reeves, of Sahara Networks. "They've got plenty of time to research several problems, and it might take them a year or more to decide on a direction."
That's not to say that Mangrove is clueless. The company only opened its doors in May and now employs 10 people. And yes, it is spending its time conducting technical and market research to determine what specific products it will build.
Even its name suggests some thought to improving telecom networks. "The mangrove is known for its extensive network of roots coming from one core," Reeves says. "In today's networks, you start at the high-capacity cores and end up at this complex array of access circuits."
When not admiring plants, Reeves has spent time pondering some specific network problems. "There's a great disparity between the service provisioning models of the Sonet/SDH world and those of the data world," he says. "This, in many ways, has limited the growth and rate of deployment of some of the more advanced data services from service providers.
"We all talk about IP, MPLS, and Ethernet solutions as being of great interest. But if you look at what that means to the service provider from a provisioning side… it's an extremely complex and costly undertaking."
Reeves says his company is talking to service providers about their problems and also polling enterprise customers on what services they'd like to see. The end result might be a combination of offerings, such as improved operational support systems software and plug-in hardware platforms, he says.
The bottom line is, it will be a while before Mangrove can deliver something concrete. And naturally, Reeves is in no great hurry to cash out, either. Although he wasn't drawing a salary when Sycamore acquired Sirocco, he did own some 3.6 million shares in the startup, according to SEC filings (see Sycamore Waterlogged). [Ed. note: That's a lot of coconuts!]
Reeves and Bessemer partner Rob Soni are on Mangrove's board. Reeves had been an operating partner at Bessemer since September 2001, but he gave up the role when Mangrove was started.
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading