By Bob Hower
128 Technology made a big announcement today, raising over $20 million of Series C in which we played a proud part. 128 will be a much-needed anchor company for New England and with any luck (and a little patience,) a global company with lasting impact on the technology world. Big claim, I know. And I also know I’m biased.
I’ve worked with two of the founders for 22 years now, and with other members of the senior team for almost as long. I watched the company closely as it has emerged from its stealthy start as “Primary Networks” a few years back — when we first and proudly invested in it — through its public launch about a year ago, and now to today’s commercial launch and additional funding announcement, where — once again — we are thrilled to be investing right alongside the founders to help build something great.
Why do we have so much conviction about this business, and how did we develop it so early?
A Juicy Problem: Legacy Routing Complexity
The internet is broken, folks. It’s evolved slowly over the past 25 years into a stateless web of complexity filled with various stateful middle-boxes that attempt to address issues of quality, security and predictability. It’s a recurring nightmare for architects and network managers who are expected to deliver services flawlessly to their increasingly mobile users and their many devices. The situation calls out for simplicity and a new way of thinking about routing, and that’s exactly what founders Andy, Pat, Prashant, Bob, Michael, and Hadriel set out do in in creating 128 Technology.
Patrick MeLampy and his team started by sketching out the concept of Secure Vector Routing on a clean sheet or paper. The term is meant to convey two important differences from the current “best efforts” paradigm: bi-directional control and statefulness. These two capabilities mean that provisioning, security and quality can be be delivered with radical simplicity and without middle boxes such as fire walls and load balancers (for a more detailed explanation of the importance of these fundamental building blocks, see here.)
Another way 128T is different is their software-only approach. Intel’s x86 family of processors allows 128T software to work almost anywhere, and to be deployed in a radically more cost efficient manner. Designers can optimize for the paths they want to use, rather than the economics dictated by their routing vendor. Further, 128T has the disruptive ability to charge only for routed packets, not for total capacity everywhere in the network.
There are several ways start ups need to be right to be successful. The first is timing, or as we say Why Now? It’s becoming clear that the networking community is unhappy with legacy options. They’re more ready than ever to break with 20th century technologies and actively looking for the next generation solutions. The emergence of software defined networking (SDN) solutions are emblematic of this readiness, though many are realizing that adding yet another layer of complexity on top of network architectures born before YouTube is no good answer. 128’s bottom-up approach changes starts fresh with network fundamentals designed around the business requirements of 2017 and beyond, simplifying operations while enabling entirely new levels of control and efficiency.
The second way start ups need to be right is with a disruptive value proposition, or as we say Why This? Startups need to generate enough value to compel customers (and go-to-market partners) to overcome real and perceived barriers to trail. Given the human psychology of gains and losses, driving that kind of change takes more than a positive return… it takes 10x return. 128 does that too.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, start ups need a team that can execute together and who will have credibility with customers and partners.
Why Them? A Team with Plenty of Room to Grow
Andy and Pat are perfect for the challenge they’re taking on. They’ve done their 10,000+ hours solving issues arising from the old routing paradigm. In fact it’s hard to believe that there was a better team out there to solve the issues they’ve identified than the folks they’ve attracted from their last 25 years of success. Each of the senior members of the 128T team are in new, challenging rolls, and each is more than up to the challenge.
Articulating The Mission
Aligning mission, culture, and talent is what creates high performance. No one does that better than Andy and Pat.
It’s a mission, folks. And it happens in carefully thought-through stages.
It takes some good old fashioned chutzpah to start a company by saying “The internet is broken, and we’re going to fix it.” Walking the halls at 128T these past months, though, I see a growing team of incredible people working together to do just that, and feel the energy of their intention, focus, and skill. In the end it’s that energy that carries you through the tough times every startup has to overcome to change the world, and that — as much as any other factor in our rather thoughtful analysis of this opportunity — is why we’re proud to backing 128 Technology on the next leg of their journey and beyond.
Good luck, guys. And Godspeed.
The original post can be found here.