Futuriom 50: The 2023 Standouts

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By: Mary Jander

With 2023 nearing an end, it’s time for us at Futuriom to take a fresh look at our Futuriom 50. Published every January, this is a list of the strongest private companies in key markets for cloud and communications infrastructure. January 2024 will be the third year we’ve published this report.

As we’ve done each year in the runup to the list, we’re examining last year’s list to see who’s garnered the most funding, who’s moving up the scale to potential IPO, what new companies in hot categories might be included this year, and who may not make the cut.

To review, following is the list of last year’s Futuriom 50 (actually 51, given a bonus addition):

Anjuna, Arrcus, Aryaka Networks, Aviatrix, Aviz Networks, Betacom, CAST AI, Cato Networks, Celona Networks, Chronosphere, ClearBlade, Cloudbrink, Cockroach Labs, Databricks, Devo, Dragos, DriveNets, Elisity, EngFlow, Exabeam, Fivetran, Fortanix, Graphiant, Hazelcast, Hedgehog, Itential, Kentik, Kong, Lacework, Macrometa, Materialize, NetBrain, NetFoundry, Netris, Netskope, PacketFabric, Prosimo, Orca Security, Rubrik, Selector, SonarSource, StackPath, Stackwatch, Stellar Cyber, Striim, Tecton, Teleport, Tigera, TrueFort, Versa Networks, Wib.

On Track to IPO?

A glance at the list above shows an interesting trend: While no companies have been acquired this year, there are quite a few with enough funding to put them on track for initial public offering (IPO). Indeed, several of this year’s Futuriom 50 have more than $500 million in their coffers. That said, macroeconomic conditions persist that could threaten any imminent plans. Despite that, these firms remain in line to go public when and if conditions permit. Below is a sampling, in alpha order:

Cato Networks (amount raised: $500 million+). The company that helped define secure access service edge (SASE) scored $238 million in equity financing in September 2023 on a valuation of $3 billion. “We continue to say that Cato will be ready for IPO in the second half of 2024,” stated Yishay Yovel, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), in September. “Whether we actually IPO or not will depend on market conditions.”

Cockroach Labs ($633 million). The open-source, cloud-native, distributed SQL database called CockroachDB, which is available in a serverless option, has propelled Cockroach to a dominant market position. Its valuation is about $5 billion, prompting ongoing talk of IPO that so far hasn’t materialized.

Databricks ($4 billion+). The purveyor of a "data lakehouse" that combines data warehousing and data lake functions to gather unstructured and structured data into a common cloud-based location recently grabbed another $500 million in late-stage funding on a breathtaking valuation of $43 billion this past September. Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi told CNBC that an IPO is “still on the roadmap” but gave no timeframe.

DriveNets ($587 million). This vendor replaces proprietary chassis from switch and router vendors with a Network Cloud software stack that runs on cheaper, white-box hardware. The firm recently announced a new version of its software designed to optimize networking for AI. CEO Ido Susan has hinted that IPO could be an option for further growth.

Fivetran ($730 million). This company specializes in moving data automatically among numerous data sources. It is valued at $5.6 billion. Recent software development kits (SDKs) that open its source-to-target technology to developers could provide further momentum. But on the issue of IPO it’s crickets.

Lacework ($1.8 billion). IPO has been anticipated for the cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP) since 2021, but so far the company hasn’t pulled the trigger. Perhaps next year?

Rubrik ($1 billion+). Word is that Rubrik has been considering an IPO in 2023. But macroeconomic conditions have shifted since the firm made that public in September, and there’s no sign of follow-up.

Sizable Funding in Key Sectors

Last year's Futuriom 50 also featured companies with sizable funding in market segments that have been emerging as key to the future of cloud technology, including AI, cloud cost management, and multicloud networking. Here's a sampling:

Arrcus. The multicloud networking (MCN) startup began 2023 with $50 million in Series D funding, which doubled its valuation (unspecified). As one of the fastest growing startups in the MCN space, Arrcus is ideally positioned to tap increased demand by enterprises looking to connect a more distributed IT infrastructure.

Aviatrix. The intelligent multicloud networking pioneer has raised $340 million and continues to innovate in its products and services, including in the red-hot area of observability. New CEO Doug Merritt hasn’t spoken about going public, but this company’s got strong momentum and a growing customer list (including Adobe, Aegeon, Chewy, Global Foods, and Raytheon). Stay tuned.

CAST AI. The startup that offers a Kubernetes management platform that reduces cloud spending using an artificial intelligence (AI) engine, announced recently that it has raised $35 million in Series B funding. The company is also focused on turning its products into a platform to automate many aspects of managing cloud resources and infrastructure.

Chronosphere. Chronosphere offers a cloud-native observability platform designed to monitor enterprise data generated by IT resources in order to tame rampant data growth, improve workload efficiency, and reduce unnecessary processing costs. The company has raised $343 million.

Dragos. The maker of cybersecurity software for industrial environments scored an additional $74 million in funding this past September, bringing its total raised to about $440 million. Will the company file for IPO next year? According to the Wall Street Journal, CEO Robert M. Lee said no. Instead, going public, while being considered an option, could be “several years” away and may never happen, Lee said.

Versa Networks. The vendor's well-publicized IPO plan appears to be on hold. Its SASE platform provides networking and security with multitenancy and sophisticated analytics via the cloud, on-premises, or as a blended combination of both. So far, it's raised $316 million.

… And Where Are They Now?

Not all of the Futuriom 50 have had impressive news to share this year. Exabeam, for instance, recently announced it would lay off 20% of its workforce due to “global macroeconomic headwinds.” StackPath has sold its content delivery network (CDN) business to Akamai. The company said it will dedicate its focus to “being the industry’s best cloud computing platform built at the Internet’s edge.” Akamai and other CDN providers are doing that too – without relinquishing their original business. While not necessarily off the list, these and a handful of other companies we haven’t heard about this year raise questions about their qualifications for the Futuriom 50.

Futuriom Take: There has definitely been a tech slowdown that will separate companies in the pack. Some rising trends will lift new companies onto the list, but those losing momentum without significant new customers or funding announcements may find themselves dropping off the Futuriom 50.

A final note: We are open to all ideas. Who do you think we should include in the Futuriom 50? Let us know!