PTC Reunites FORE Systems Founders


FORE Systems founders and executives recounted the history of the company and provided lessons learned along the way to a crowd of aspiring entrepreneurs.

The Pittsburgh Technology Council took a trip down memory lane with former FORE Systems founders and executives last night. They even provided the crowd with some valuable tech business building lessons learned along the way.

Onat Menzilcioglu, Founder, VP Engineering and President; Francois Bitz, Founder; Eric Cooper, Founder and CEO turned Chairman of the Board; Thomas Gill, President and CEO; and Mike Green, Global VP of Sales all gathered for a panel discussion recounting key milestones along the path of FORE Systems meteoric rise to tech stardom.

Founded in 1990 to supply a US Naval Research Laboratories request for development, FORE initially produced Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network interface cards for SBus- and TURBOchannel-based computers in addition to ATM adapters for Silicon Graphics computers.

FORE created a memory-based ATM switch that captured a strong portion of the ATM market. Other technologies include Internet Protocol, Gigabit Ethernet and Firewall switching. FORE Systems also supported advanced dynamic routing protocols.

The name FORE was an acronym of the founders’ first names: Francois Bitz, Onat Menzilcioglu, Robert Sansom, and Eric Cooper. It was acquired by London-based GEC in 1999 for $4.5 billion to complement its Marconi Communications business and to increase its presence in North America.

The panel discussed how they navigated their growth in Pittsburgh (including raising capital and building their team), what they learned along the way, and the effects they have had on Pittsburgh’s current entrepreneurial community.

TechVibe Radio recorded an exclusive interview with Eric Cooper after the event. Listen right here.

Netronome Secures $23 Million in Series D Funding

Netronome, a developer of network flow processors, today announced it has closed a $23 million Series D round of funding. The funds will accelerate Netronome’s growth in the rapidly expanding network flow processor market. With the new investment, Netronome will scale technical support for numerous customer design wins and expand global operations in sales, marketing and manufacturing.

The oversubscribed round was led by new investor DFJ Esprit, and included previous investors Raptor Group, Tudor Ventures and Top Technology. The round also included investment from industry luminaries – FORE Systems founders Robert Sansom and Eric Cooper, and Analysys founder David Cleevely.

“Netronome’s award winning network flow processors have changed the way people are building intelligent networking products,” said Krishna Visvanathan, partner at DFJ Esprit and new member of the Netronome board of directors. “Netronome’s record revenue growth and new design wins at top-tier networking OEMs confirm the momentum and make clear the opportunity to remain the leading provider of network flow processors. We look forward to working with the management team to drive this next phase of growth.”

The new funding comes during a period of record growth for the company, including a five-fold increase in annual revenue and five consecutive quarters with record sales. Netronome plans to more than double its revenue in 2010. In addition to its accelerated growth from current products, Netronome recently announced it began shipping its new flagship product, the NFP-3240, to customers in late 2009. Customer design wins include shared service blades in switches and routers, 3G and LTE wireless infrastructure, security appliances and virtualized servers. The products resulting from these top-tier network equipment OEM partnerships will reach production in the second half of 2010.

“Many customers share our vision for intelligent and secure networking platforms based on x86 processors. More importantly they recognize that network flow processors are the key component in scaling these designs,” said Niel Viljoen, founder and CEO of Netronome. “This funding will allow us to successfully manage our growth by providing the additional sales support, design assistance and manufacturing supply required by our increasing number of design wins.”