Palo Alto, Calif.
CEO: Steve Mullaney
Nicira emerged from stealth mode in February 2012, but it had already proven itself as a marketing firecracker, having built word-of-mouth buzz over its network virtualization platform -- and the high-profile hires it made from the likes of Cisco, Juniper and VMware -- for many months prior. When the announcement came, it was Nicira's Network Virtualization Platform (NVP), a software system for creating distributed virtual network infrastructure custom-fit for cloud-ready data centers. Nicira's big year has continued this summer as VMWare plunked down $1.2 billion to acquire the SDN startup in July.