Big Switch Networks Raises $48.5 Million in New Funding

SDN pioneer adds Silver Lake to its investor list as the company ramps up operations.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jan 19, 2016
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Correction: The original version of this article identified Silver Lake Partners as a Big Switch investor. The investor is Silver Lake Waterman, a separate fund from Silver Lake Partners.

Software Defined Networking (SDN) vendor Big Switch Networks is announcing a new Series C round of funding, bringing in $48.5 million. Big Switch's total funding to date stands at $94 million.

The Series C round included participation from Morgenthaler Ventures, Silver Lake Waterman, Accton, CID Group, and Michael Dell’s MSD Capital, among others. Kyle Forster, founder of Big Switch, particularly highlighted the participation of Silver Lake, a group that tends to invest in late stage companies and is well known in the industry for helping to take public companies like Dell private.

As to how Silver Lake Waterman came to invest in Big Switch, Forster explained that former Cisco senior executive Charles Giancarlo has been a Big Switch angel investor. Giancarlo is a former operating partner at Silver Lake.

"Typically, Silver Lake is a much later stage investor, but I think because of the Giancarlo connection and the fact the company is growing so fast, they took a look at us," Forster said.

In terms of how Big Switch's investors came to the determination that $48.5 million was the right amount, Forster noted that there was a lot of due diligence done to fully evaluate the company's activities and prospects.

Forster explained that for a Series A round, investors tend to focus on the technology. When it comes to a Series B round, there is a need for the company's technology to be fully installed and in production with multiple customers. For the Series C round, Forster said that Big Switch's lead investors asked for insight into every transaction that the company had ever done.

As to how the new funding will be used, Forster said that the goal is to accelerate sales and marketing growth.

"We grew by over 3x from 2014 to 2015 and we're in this wonderful stage of the business where the more marketing and sales dollars we put in, the more topline comes out," Forster said.

Growing Big Switch's sales involves both direct sales and partner and channel relationships. Forster said that partner and channel sales represented almost a third of Big Switch's business in 2015. A big partner for Big Switch is Dell and its open networking initiative. Forster said that Big Switch has already helped to train 1,200 Dell people on Big Switch technology.

Looking forward, Forster said that his company will continue to innovate over the course of 2016 and beyond as it evolves its products and its business.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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