Mavenir Converges on $13M

Service convergence platform startup Mavenir Systems Inc. has raised $13.1 million in its first round of funding as it prepares to emerge from stealth mode with what one of its founders calls "a blitz."

Rashad Ali, founder and VP of product management at the Richardson, Texas-based company, says Mavenir has "been in stealth mode for about 18 months, but we're pretty much ready now for a blitz. We're going to be unveiling technology in September and exhibiting selectively at industry shows."

The company is keeping exact details under wraps for now, but Ali says Mavenir, founded with long-time collaborators Pulin Patel and Achal Patel (who are brothers-in-law), is "developing true convergence technology well beyond the scope of fixed/mobile convergence" technologies such as UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access), that allow roaming between mobile and fixed networks. (See UMA Services Near Reality.)

"Our technology will enable the delivery of any communications or media service, such as IPTV or streaming media, across any network to any device -- whatever the user wants," says Ali, who believes the term "convergence" has been misappropriated. "The biggest misnomer of convergence is that it's just about being able to hand off calls between different networks. Convergence is all about the user."

Ali says Mavenir's technology has been developed with more than just the traditional telecom operators in mind. Ali says it can be deployed by fixed and mobile carriers "and services portals such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO)."

But with convergence such a buzzword, how will Mavenir stand out from the crowd?

The founders' track record will help enormously. They previously formed a company called IPMobile in March 1999 to develop IP radio access networks (IP-RANs) that would connect 3G mobile base stations to IP networks. Having raised less than $7 million in funding, they sold that company in August 2000 to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) for $425 million in stock.

Now their new company has attracted backing from investors including Austin Ventures and North Bridge Venture Partners , and, according to an anonymous tip from a Light Reading reader, the services of a senior Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) executive.

The tipster says Pardeep Kohli, Alcatel's president of Mobile NGN, has left the giant vendor to join Mavenir. Kohli was the former CEO of mobile softswitch firm Spatial Wireless, which was acquired by Alcatel in September 2004. (See Alcatel in M&A Frenzy.)

Alcatel confirms that Kohli has "left the company to pursue other interests," but Mavenir's Ali said he couldn't say whether Kohli had joined his new outfit.

So what are the prospects for such a startup? Heavy Reading senior analyst Graham Finnie says all the major vendors are working towards the same goal, to develop a system that delivers any service to any device. "That's the objective of IMS, but it's unlikely any of them could achieve that now, as such broad capabilities are not part of the initial IMS release, and you need an IMS client on the devices – and they aren't widely available yet."

Finnie says it looks as if Mavenir, from the scant information available on its Website, has developed proprietary technology that can manage multiple protocols, perform bandwidth management, and cope with different end-user devices.

"But the large telcos want technology that's IMS compliant. There's a definite resistance to non-standards-based solutions," says the analyst, though he adds that if IMS developments fall too far behind, some might be tempted by proprietary platforms. And a hold-up in IMS deployments is possible if certain improvements are too slow in coming. "There are a lot of concerns amongst carriers that the whole area of identity management is very problematic," says Finnie.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

fmc_man 12/5/2012 | 3:49:42 AM
re: Mavenir Converges on $13M
Any service, any network, any user, etc.

But if it is proprietary, it'll be a tough road ahead.

"Finnie says it looks as if Mavenir...has developed proprietary technology"
digits 12/5/2012 | 3:49:39 AM
re: Mavenir Converges on $13M I just heard from Rashad Ali - he says Mavenir's technology, 'True Convergence'

"delivers IMS (services) today to not only IMS compliant devices but also the existing 2 billion-plus legacy handsets. True Convergence brings New Services to existing/legacy device and extends existing services to new emerging IMS devices as well. True Convergence fully supports IMS core and IMS end-user devices."

So Mavenir claims to support IMS, but that doesn't mean it's a standards-based platform without proprietary IP.


fmc_man 12/5/2012 | 3:49:27 AM
re: Mavenir Converges on $13M I think it's time to forget about the acronyms for a 2nd and understand: 1) What services can be offered today by fixed and mobile operators that they cannot do without the technology; 2) How does it drive costs out of the network; 3) What mass market handsets can be leveraged; 4) Can it be deployed in a scalable fashion and THEN how does it map into IMS at some point. Pragmatism is the key now for operators. They have to move now.
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