Press Democrat

$6 million infusion for startup Alantro

Sep. 25, 1999

By Carol Benfell
Press Democrat Staff Writer

Alantro Communications, a telecommunications startup company in Santa Rosa, has received a $6 million investment from VantagePoint Venture Partners and Cisco Systems.

It's a major infusion of cash for the 2-year old company, which has 15 employees. Alantro will use the money to double the size of its staff, expand its product line and move toward getting its product on the market, said Eric Rossin, Alantro president.

"We're very excited to now have the capitalization to move our plans forward,'' said Chris Heegard, Alantro's chief executive officer.

As part of the investment, Matt Ocko, a VantagePoint partner, will join Alantro's board of directors.

Alantro is developing a wireless local area networking technology that will allow data to be transmitted with high speed, high performance, efficiency and reliability. The technology will allow people within a company to send data back and forth without being wired together and also can be extended into the home. Their technology recently was adopted as a high performance option by IEEE, a professional engineering association that sets communications standards.

The $6 million investment marks a waypoint for Alantro and another sign of the wireless revolution currently under way. For years, people have been able to have voice communications almost as easily over wireless networks as with wired lines. But there was no reliable way of transmitting data -- e-mail or Web pages or information stored in an office computer -- without using wires to transmit the material.

But recent technological breakthroughs are changing that, and wireless data communications is gaining acceptance because it makes it easier for people to stay linked with the information they need wherever they go.

The $6 million investment marks Cisco Systems' third foray into Sonoma County in less than a year. The Silicon Valley networking giant last month purchased Cerent Corp., a Petaluma telecom startup, for $6.9 billion, following a $320 million stock acquisition in April of Fibex Systems, a Petaluma company that makes access equipment for the telephone network.

VantagePoint Venture Partners, with offices in Silicon Valley and Stamford, Conn., manages more than $825 million and invests in fast-growth technology companies.

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