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Startup Company Profile #8: Narad Networks

Narad Networks is an automatic award winner in the start-up turnaround and tenacity categories. The company was founded in 2000 by a couple of telco industry high flyers seeking to enable Gigabit Ethernet services over cable networks, still a smart idea. However, drunk on telecom bubble Kool-Aid and pumped full of hype by the likes of George Gilder, the hubris of Narad's management team irked cable operators. With fat staffing levels they quickly burned through their VC cash and through unrealistic engineering timetables, struggled to bring a stable product solution to market.

That's all in the past, though. Not long after hiring cable industry veteran Chuck Kaplan as its marketing VP in 2002, Narad rebooted. The VCs swept the founders out the door and promoted Kaplan to COO, who has helped guide Narad's turnaround under a series of CEOs. Narad's current CEO, Michael Collete, joined the company in 2005 from Ucentric Systems. Like Narad, Ucentric was funded by Polaris ventures. Collete helped engineer a turnaround at the DVR software start-up leading to Ucentric's sale to Motorola in 2005.

With that as background, Narad has raised over $100 million and now counts 30 employees. Current investors in the Westford, Mass. company include Polaris Venture Partners, Argo Global Capital, Sofinnova Venture Partners and Vertical Group. Publicly announced MSO customers include Cablevision Systems, Hargray Communications and Delta Cable.

Narad's Broadband Access Network (NBAN) is comprised of HFC network switches, CPE and a centralized software platform for provisioning, traffic management and network operations. The NBAN cable Ethernet solution can be deployed in a variety of applications ranging from business connectivity to pseudowire cell tower backhaul, or even turbo-charged residential services. Indeed, it is in the later category where Narad may make its mark. The solution enables MSOs to deploy symmetrical 100 M/bits IP networks to the home for a fraction of the cost of FTTH. If Cablevision opts to fully deploy NBAN residentially in its battle with Verizon, Narad could become a serious acquisition target in short order.

    Start-up: Narad Networks
    Innovation factor: 9 (out of 10)
    Likely Acquirers: Cisco Systems
    Handicap: 4-1 odds on Cisco/S-A to support their Cablevision account and help drive MSOs deeper into the business service market.


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