128 Technology Takes In $21.5M to “Transform People’s Networks”

Don’t look now, but 128 Technology is looking to go big. The Burlington, MA-based startup says today it has raised $21.5 million in Series C funding. The company, led by veterans of Acme Packet (now part of Oracle), is on a quest to reinvent routing technologies for the Internet and other networks.

The new money comes from 128 Technology executives and employees, individual investors from outside the company, and previous investor G20 Ventures. The company says it has raised a total of $57 million to date and has grown to 100-plus employees spread across North America, South America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region.

128 Technology’s core idea is to develop software that makes routers “session oriented,” meaning they have intelligence and memory that helps keep track of incoming and outgoing data traffic. The goal is to improve a network’s speed, reliability, and security—and do away with things like firewalls, load balancing, and deep packet inspection, which add complexity and cost.

“You fix the router, you fix the network,” says Andy Ory, 128 Technology’s CEO and co-founder. “We tell folks here we are in the business of transforming people’s networks.”

It hasn’t been an easy road so far. “Technology companies start with the technology first,” Ory says. “Over time, if you’re going to be successful, you need to transition to selling business value.” For 128 Technology, he says, “the business value is so readily obvious [now], but it wasn’t in the early days.”

Like most startups, 128 Technology has had to figure out where it fits into the market. “You get use cases and customers,” Ory says. For example, a big retailer might need to manage connectivity between multiple data centers and thousands of stores. 128’s software could help those sites connect to apps and services without the need to reconfigure firewalls when new people need access to the network, Ory says. Selling a new kind of technical system is “a cumbersome, complex way to do it. But it’s the way all technology companies get started.”

Ory knows all about that side of things. His previous company was Acme Packet, which got started in 2000, went public in 2006, and was acquired by Oracle for $2.1 billion in 2013. Acme Packet was also a networking play, but its technology was “very specific to voice, to telephone companies,” Ory says. With 128 Technology, “what we’re doing is advancing the art and science of routing, so all connectivity can promote better applications and services. It’s not particular to a market vertical—this is everybody.”

His prediction is that “over 60 months, this will be an architecture that’s ubiquitous.”

To get there, 128 Technology needs to sign up a lot more enterprise users. So far, its big customers include communications firm Revation Systems and IT and networking company NEC Networks & System Integration.

Networking tech is a crowded and competitive field these days. But Ory doesn’t sound too worried about fending off traditional players like F5 Networks and Riverbed Technology. “They’re not going to participate in this new future,” he says. “This new future is about routers.”

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