Big Switch Hires Former Battery Ventures Partner As Networking Space Heats Up And Acquisition Speculations Swirl

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Big Switch, one of the hottest startups in the fast-growing software defined networking (SDN) market, has named Jason Matlof as its new vice president of marketing after he left Battery Ventures as a partner in September.

The move is noteworthy, because it illustrates how fast the new networking space is emerging, as data becomes ever more difficult to manage on traditional physical infrastructure. SDN technology helps to facilitate the virtualization of the network. The dream is that the network can be anywhere. In more practical terms it means that customers can program their networks to their needs. Big Switch makes the claim that it can decrease networking complexity and thus save money on capital and operational expenses.

Big Switch is getting a lot of attention now that Nicira, its biggest competitor, sold to VMware for $1.26 billion. The move to hire Matlof, who has a deep background in networking, shows that the company is beefing up its management team with the potential of getting gobbled up by a VMware competitor.

A competitor may likely be one of the major companies pushing converged infrastructure. That’s not likely going to be Oracle but more so a company like IBM, which Brad Casemore points out on his excellent blog, “Twilight of the Nerds”:

One company I had envisioned as a potential (though less likely) acquirer of Nicira was IBM, which already has a vSwitch. IBM might now settle for the SDN-controller technology available from Big Switch Networks. The two have been working together on IBM’s Open Data Center Interoperable Network (ODIN), and Big Switch’s technology fits well with IBM’s PureSystems and its top-down model of having application workloads command and control  virtualized infrastructure. As the second network-virtualization domino to fall, Big Switch likely will go for a lower price than did Nicira.

It’s the price tag that becomes the issue here. VMware paid a lot of money for Nicrira, inflating values for companies across the space. Casemore believes Big Switch would go for less than Nicira.

We’ll see what happens, but with Matlof on the team I’d expect there is a higher likelihood that Big Switch is looking at what its exit might be.