Futuriom 40 Update! Gearing Up for 2023

Futuriom 40 Cover

By: Mary Jander

It’s been nearly two years since we launched our annual Futuriom 40, our list of the top emerging private companies in the cloud and communications infrastructure markets. And as the year draws to a close, we’re taking stock of our 2022 list to see who’s been acquired, funded, and otherwise launched to the next level; who may be ripe for inclusion in next year's expanded Futuriom 50; and who is likely to fall off the list in 2023.

To review, the Futuriom 40 for 2022 included the following companies:

Alkira, Anjuna, Arrcus, Aryaka Networks, Aviatrix, Benu Networks, CAST AI, Cato Networks, Cockroach Labs, Databricks, Celona Networks, Devo Technology, Dragos, DriveNets, Elisity, Exabeam, Fivetran, Fortanix, Fungible, Hazelcast, Infiot, Itential, Kentik, Lacework, Macrometa, NetFoundry, Netris, Netskope, PacketFabric, Pluribus Networks, Orca Security, Rubrik, StackPath, Stellar Cyber, Tigera, Triggermesh, TrueFort, Versa Networks, Weaveworks, and WiteSand.

There have been lots of challenges for each of these companies in 2022. Even well-established players found it tough to navigate a tumultuous geopolitical landscape characterized by cascading tech markets, supply chain delays, and other risks. In short, 2022 has been a trial by fire.

Let’s take a look at who’s progressed – and who’s fallen behind.

Futuriom 40 Exits

While market conditions stalled several potential IPOs (including those of Cockroach Labs, Dragos, and Lacework), three of the Futuriom 40 made exits in 2022:

Benu Networks. Category: Distributed Cloud Infrastructure. Last month, optical powerhouse Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) bought Benu Networks, along with another firm, Tibit Communications. Terms for the Benu buy were not disclosed. Benu makes a cloud-native platform called the Software-Defined Edge (SD-Edge), which is meant to add a range of edge functions to a service provider’s network. Ciena says Benu will provide it with “a single solution that integrates routing, OLT, subscriber management and network services.” Exactly how that will pan out – as an add-on to an existing Ciena platform or as a brand-new product, remains to be seen.

Infiot. Category: Distributed Cloud Infrastructure. In early August 2022, Netskope announced the purchase of Infiot for an undisclosed sum. Infiot’s palm-sized devices extend software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) and zero trust network access (ZTNA) to Internet of Things (IoT) environments. Infiot is now part of Netskope’s Borderless WAN product, described by Netskope as a “fully integrated, single-vendor SASE platform.”

Pluribus Networks. Category: Distributed Cloud Infrastructure. Just a day before Infiot’s announcement, Arista Networks (NYSE: ANET) revealed its purchase of Pluribus Networks, with the terms not disclosed. Pluribus provides a modernized network operating system (NOS) based on Linux that deploys software-defined networking (SDN) to automate underlay and overlay networks, create secure microsegmentation, and provide network visibility. The result is a virtual fabric that can link datacenters, public clouds, and edge locations. Arista is using Pluribus to extend its cloud networking capabilities.

WiteSand. Categories: Cloud Automation, Unified Cloud Security. Just a month after the Futuriom 40 2022 listing, WiteSand was quickly scooped up by Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR). WiteSand’s "zero trust as a service" aims to replace all functions formerly required by network monitors, network access control tools, network provisioning tools, and network flow analytics tools. Juniper is using WiteSand’s APIs to enable a single interface for cloud-native, zero-trust network access control (NAC).

Funding Scores in 2022

Despite a tough funding environment, three of the Futuriom 40 raised substantial sums in 2022:

Celona. Category: Distributed Cloud Infrastructure. The private LAN cellular startup closed a $60 million Series C round in March 2022, bringing its total raised to $100 million. Celona is riding a wave of interest in private wireless networks, and its pioneering technology has been adopted by an ecosystem of partners and resellers that includes NTT and Verizon. Celona also has alliances with Ericsson's Cradlepoint and with the Aruba subsidiary of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE).

Drivenets. Category: Distributed Cloud Infrastructure. In August, Drivenets scored $262 million in Series C funding, bringing its total to $587 million and its valuation to over $1 billion. Drivenets replaces proprietary chassis from switch and router vendors with a Network Cloud software stack that runs on cheaper, white-box hardware – making it especially attractive to telcos and datacenter service providers.

Versa Networks. Categories: Distributed Cloud Infrastructure, Unified Cloud Security. Versa in October raised $120 million in a round that executives say should bring it to profitability and/or IPO within the next 18 months. The SD-WAN pioneer also has a strong foothold as a supplier to service providers selling managed SD-WAN and SASE services. In boasts “thousands” of customers, including Adobe, Barclays, CapitalOne, Comcast, Samsung, and Verizon, just to name a few.

Companies Struggling with Buzz

Of course, 2022 took its toll on a few of the Futuriom 40. For a few of the companies we follow, we're hearing of struggles to keep growth to track.

We are hearing, for instance, that data processing unit (DPU) innovator Fungible (Cloud Data Management, Distributed Cloud Infrastructure) has been challenged to regroup in the face of increased competition. Cloud workload security specialist Lacework (Unified Cloud Security) faced a sizable round of layoffs last spring and has seen a shift in its C-suite, including the departure of co-CEO David Hatfield, who remains on the board. CEO Jay Parikh remains in charge alone. Of course, none of this means these vendors are off the Futuriom 50 – not yet, at least.

So who have we got our eye on? Basically, a slew of startups featuring streaming databases, data pipeline visibility solutions, SASE, artificial intelligence, analytics, multicloud networking... you get the idea. Despite macroeconomic challenges, there is no dearth of viable startups in the markets supporting ever-expanding digital transformation.

A Bigger List!

Given the pace at which tech markets are shifting and growing, we've decided to expand our annual list of top private cloud and communications companies to 50 next year.

Some of last year's list are likely to make it onto the new one, but some will be left behind as stronger candidates follow more compelling market trends onto our list.

But we're open to all ideas. Who do you think we should include in the Futuriom 50? Let us know!