Woven Gets $20M Funding Add-On

Switch vendor clinches Series B and plans expansion

September 25, 2007

3 Min Read
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Secretive switch vendor Woven Systems has picked up $20 million in Series B funding as the 10-Gbit/s specialist looks to increase its impact in the IT market.

The round, led by Mohr Davidow Ventures, also included existing investors Palomar Ventures and Goldman Sachs and brings Woven's total funding to $35 million.

After nearly two years in the shadows, Woven Systems finally unveiled its core technology at last spring's Interop event, taking the wraps off the EFX 1000 -- a low-latency 10-Gbit/s switch it touted as an alternative to InfiniBand.

"The purpose of this round is to enable to us to bring the technology that we have developed to market," says Jeff Thermond, Woven's CEO. "It's for sales and marketing, obviously, building out customer services, and complementing the existing operations within the company."

At the moment, Woven has around 40 employees, although Thermond was unwilling to say what this figure will be a year from now. "That's subject to how things go - my crystal ball gets a little bit fuzzy that far out."Woven nonetheless appears to be on something of a recruitment tear and is currently advertising for 22 positions on its Website. Almost half of these jobs are in sales, although the vendor is also on the lookout for engineers with experience in switching protocols and embedded systems, as well as a product marketing manager.

The startup needs the feet on the street to make its presence felt in a busy corner of the switch market, where it faces stiff competition from Cisco, Foundry, and Force 10.

Woven claims to have the industry's densest 10-Gbit/s switch, with 144 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports on a single chassis. Foundry's recently announced BigIron RX is Woven's closest competitor, with 128 ports of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet on a single chassis.

Despite these figures, the startup has just a handful of beta customers. Some five users are testing Woven's switch technology, and only one of these, Sandia National Lab, has been made public. Thermond would not reveal other customers, although he told Byte and Switch that money has already started to come in from the product.

In the long term, the vendor is pushing its technology as a high-speed link between servers and storage. "There are two target markets for Woven -- one is high performance computing, the other is Web services and Internet providers," says Derek Granath, the firm's vice president of marketing.The vendor has also positioned its products as a low-latency substitute for InfiniBand, hoping to exploit user unease about the technology. Enterprises have given InfiniBand something of a mixed reception, citing cost, lack of visibility, and limited interoperability with other technologies as major issues, although some proponents are hopeful of wider adoption.

Though Thermond refused to say how the Series B money will support his firm's product development plans, it's not for lack of ideas. "We do not feel that we are anywhere close to the innovation that is possible on top of the platform," he said.

The CEO was a little more forthcoming on the subject of Woven's funding schedule. "We don't need to go for [additional funding] for a very long time," he says. But he denied that the startup was running out of money prior to today's Series B.

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  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Force10 Networks Inc.

  • Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY)

  • Goldman Sachs & Co.

  • Mohr Davidow Ventures

  • Palomar Ventures

  • Sandia National Laboratories

  • Woven Systems Inc.0

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