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Goldman, Redpoint Add to $25 Million Funding Round for Networking Start-up Big Switch

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10/31/2012 | 01:13am CEST

By Drew Fitzgerald

Big Switch Networks Inc. said funds run by Redpoint Ventures and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (>> Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.) have joined existing venture-capital backers with a $25 million in Series B investment in the networking start-up, among the latest to attract attention in Silicon Valley.

Founded in 2010, Big Switch is among a fast-growing crop of start-ups rushing to offer tools for software-defined networking, or SDN, a concept that promises to dramatically simplify the way information-technology managers run the mesh of routers and switches that connects their data centers. The company raised $14 million last year from Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures, two other funds with experience in IT.

Software provider VMware Inc. (>> VMware, Inc.), no stranger to technology involved in giving programs more control of hardware, in July offered $1.26 billion to buy Nicira Inc., another SDN company founded by a former professor at Stanford University.

Big Switch Chief Executive Guido Appenzeller, who ran a Stanford lab that helped create new standards to form a base for the technology, declined to name his company's customers, though Big Switch says it has generated revenue since its inception.

Mr. Appenzeller said the software maker could have raised twice as much in the second round but didn't make deals with some potential backers to avoid diluting the founders' shares. Big Switch can operate on a much leaner budget than many traditional networking companies because of the nature of its technology, he said.

"We're simply building software," Mr. Appenzeller said."We don't have a single hardware engineer working for us."

Analysts say such software could threaten traditional network gear makers such as Cisco Systems Inc. (>> Cisco Systems, Inc.) and Juniper Networks Inc. (>> Juniper Networks, Inc.) by making the brand underlying software controllers less relevant, eating into their margins. Mr. Appenzeller said most major hardware companies in the sector have cooperated to help Big Switch's technology work with their products, though some have been slower to move.

Write to Drew Fitzgerald at andrew.fitzgerald@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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