Force10 Networks Files For IPO

The San Jose, Calif.-based data networking vendor was founded in 1999 and in the past year has continued to tweak its channel program and add two-tier distributor relationships with the likes of Tech Data and Bell Micro. In its S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Force 10 cites Cisco, Brocade and Huawei as its main competitors in the high-density, high performance Ethernet switching and data networking spaces, where it also competes with HP/3Com and Juniper.

According to its filing. the company had revenue of $43 million in its most recent reported quarter, ended Dec. 31, which was up from $23.7 million in the same period a year earlier. It posted a loss of $7.6 million, however, and suggested in the S-1 filing it expects to continue to post losses in the short-term.

Force10 further says it will use proceeds from the IPO for working capital and general corporate purposes. It didn't indicate the expected price range for shares, or the number of shares it plans to offer.

Force10's main investors include Advanced Equities Financial Corp. Chairman and co-founder Keith Daubenspeck, and First Allied Securities, J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank Securities and Barclays Capital are the named underwriters for Force 10's deal. The company plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange using the symbol "FTEN."

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The company has been considered a candidate for IPO for at least the last three years, ever since a round of Series F funding brought it $60 million in 2007. In January 2009, the company acquired Turin, a maker of Ethernet transport and wireless backhaul gear, and named former Turin President and CEO Henry Wasik the president and CEO of the combined Force 10 Networks.

Force10's recent channel maneuvering suggests the company is trying to expand its profile as an alternative to the incumbent networking and data center powers. Last week, Force10 announced a promotion through which it would offer its C-Series C300 switches at reduced prices to VARs as an alternative to Cisco's Catalyst 6509 products and other rival gear.

Earlier this week, Force10 announced a new 40-port line card for its ExaScale virtualized core switch and router platform. The line card increases the density of Force10's ExaScale E1200 to 560 10 GbE ports in a single half-rack chassis, which the vendor claims is a new benchmark.

IPO activity has picked up in the networking space as of late. One of the most recent filings came from Meru Networks, which filed its S-1 on Dec. 18, 2009.

Overall IPO filings in the U.S. are up 900 percent in 2010, according to recent data from IPO observer Renaissance Capital.