The 2008 Leading Lights Finalists
Yes, BroadSoft Inc. got a Leading Lights nomination last year, but the market hasn't been kind enough to support our theory… yet. The VOIP software company is still going strong and growing. Its emphasis on extending voice applications to the Web 2.0 world, we think, will find continued interest among operators and enterprises alike. (See BroadSoft Tackles Web 2.0, Leading Lights Finalists (2007), and BroadSoft Extends Xtended.)
Docsis 3.0, in case you haven't heard the news, is just a wee bit important to the cable industry as it faces more and more competition from fiber-fueled broadband services. And so far just one vendor – Casa Systems Inc. – has been able to pass muster at CableLabs for a cable modem termination system (CMTS) capable of bonding downstream and upstream channels. Casa is challenged, though because major cable operators don't typically throw in too heavily with small suppliers. So, we see a scenario where a buyer could step in, sensing the market potential here.
Genband Inc. 's focus, growth, and relentless pursuit of being the silent media gateway partner in several large network deployments has the firm, again, looking to go public in the next 12 months. The company's recent acquisition of NextPoint Networks adds to a story that was starting to get long in the tooth. And the divesting of former BayPackets and VocalData products shows that while growth is great, the company is trying not to get too big for its britches. (See Genband Fun Facts, Genband Unloads BayPackets, and BroadSoft Buys Genband's M6.)
RGB Networks Inc. took this award last year and obviously didn't get merged or IPOed. But we think it remains one of the more plausible IPO stories in the telecom business. If we wanted to speculate on who might buy the supposedly not-for-sale vendor, candidates would include long-time reseller Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) and Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), which have all shown interest in beefing up their video gear assets through acquisition. (See Harmonic to Tune Up Video Strategy? , LR Names 2007 Leading Lights Winners, Harmonic Hints at Acquisition Strategy , and What's Next for Arris?.)
Another would-be IPO candidate, Transmode Systems AB grew 21 percent last year. That's huge. The IPO market might be down, but with more optical consolidation in the air, the company's combination of optical and Ethernet knowhow seems like useful merger bait. Our pick? Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN), which could be scouting for a way to better address metro and access-networks. (See Infinera Surprises, Targets Metro Access and Transmode Ramps in 2007.)
Among the IPTV vendors offering scattered pieces and parts, we've been hearing a lot of good things about Verimatrix Inc. The company is in the throes of an apparently never-ending Series C funding round, and it's still talking about expanding into cable and other non-IP forms of TV. We'll see. What we do know is that its focus on content security has helped Verimatrix build a foothold among operators. Larger vendors could find that attractive as the IPTV business becomes more cutthroat. (See Verimatrix Scores $5M.)
Next Page: Best New Service