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B&S Top Ten Recast

NEW YORK CITY, March -- Ah, spring! What better time for a renewal of the Byte and Switch Top Ten Private Companies list?

Our latest iteration reflects a fair bit of change, with four new entrants. Actually, make that three new entrants and a returnee. After being jettisoned from our list in 2004, BlueArc Corp. returns to the top slot, thanks to its recent progress.

BlueArc takes the place of CommVault Systems Inc. , which ruled our last three Top Ten lists but took itself off by filing for an IPO that should make it a public company by summer. (See CommVault's Taking the Plunge.) If successful, CommVault may serve as a role model for others on our list that have held back on a public bid until the time was right.

Then again, some Top Tenners are as likely to be acquired as to take the public plunge. A couple of years back, the storage industry was like a season of Survivor -- it was a question of which companies got voted off the island and out of business. Now its like Deal or No Deal. It’s a matter of who's getting bought and by whom.

Some startups won't get what their founders feel they deserve. Lots of acquisitions these days are technology buys, where large vendors pick up pieces they are missing from companies that have good engineering but haven’t made a strong go of the business yet. Blockbuster deals like Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)'s grab of AppIQ last year are likely to be relative rarities. (See HP Chomps AppIQ & Peregrine.)

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