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Cisco to Acquire 30 Under 30 Alum for $1.2 Billion

Six years ago, Meraki used cheap Wi-Fi routers to build grassroots wireless networks. Now the company serves thousands of enterprise firms.

Six years ago, Meraki was just a research project started by three MIT graduate students to provide affordable wireless networking. And now? Cisco has agreed to acquire the San Francisco-based Wi-Fi start-up for $1.2 billion.

Led by Inc. 30 Under 30 alums John Bicket and Sanjit Biswas, the company has grown to a $100 million bookings run rate and has grown from 120 to 330 employees this year, according to an email Meraki CEO Biswas sent to employees Sunday.

In the same letter, Biswas said that the company never intended to be part of an acquisition. But when Cisco approached Meraki offering to keep the company’s mission and team intact while providing large-scale sales channels, the offer was hard to turn down.

“When we started out six years ago, we were three guys at MIT wondering where our bootstrapped venture would take us over the next few years,” Biswas wrote. “Fortunately for us, our customers helped guide the way for us over the years and were able to organically build an amazing set of products and amazing company together.” At the end of 2006, Meraki closed its first round of seed funding; to date, the company has raised $80 million.

When Inc. selected Meraki as a 30 Under 30 candidate in 2008, the company was offering its cheap wireless routers to underserved regions around the world. But as Sequoia Capital partner and Meraki board member Doug Leone explains in a blog post, the company has since honed its focus to small- and medium-sized enterprises and created a software product to complement its networking hardware.

As it turns out, Meraki's move to a cloud-networking product for enterprise clients appealed to Cisco. Rob Soderbery, senior vice president of Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group, said in a statement:

The acquisition of Meraki enables Cisco to make simple, secure, cloud-managed networks available to our global customer base of mid-sized businesses and enterprises. Meraki's solution was built from the ground up optimized for cloud, with tremendous scale, and is already in use by thousands of customers to manage hundreds of thousands of devices.

Meraki will continue to operate as a separate company until the deal closes, at which point the company’s employees will become part of Cisco’s new cloud networking group, according to Biswas. The deal is expected to close in the second fiscal quarter of 2013.

IMAGE: Courtesy Company
Last updated: Nov 19, 2012

MATTHEW WONG | Staff Writer

Matthew Wong is a digital journalist whose work has also appeared in Dow Jones VentureWire and The Wall Street Journal.

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