Founded: May 1996
NVP Investment: $7.25 million
NVP Partner: Promod Haque
IPO Date: April 9, 1999
Market Capitalization: $3.9 billion
Revenue: $98 million (fiscal year
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Company Mission: Our mission is
to provide the building blocks for networks that
connect to the Internet. Our customers include service
providers and large enterprise users.
About Gordon L. Stitt
A co-founder of Extreme Networks, Stitt has 20 years
of marketing, sales and general management experience.
Stitt co-founded Network Peripherals in 1989 and
served first as its vice president of marketing,
and then as vice president and general manager of
the OEM Business Unit. Under Stitt's leadership,
pioneered the market for high-speed switches. Before
co-founding Network Peripherals, Stitt worked in
corporate marketing at Sun Microsystems and was
director of marketing and sales at Ven-Tel. He holds
an MBA from the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
and a BSEE/BSCS from Santa Clara University.
About Extreme Networks,
Extreme Networks designs, develops, manufactures
and sells high-performance local area network (LAN)
solutions that adapt swiftly to change and enable
future applications for the new enterprise. The
company's family of Summit™ stackables and
BlackDiamond™ modular switching systems combine
Ethernet and the Internet Protocol (IP) with wire
speed Layer 3 Switching to increase the flow of
information and allow for future network growth.
What was Extreme
Networks' founding vision?
Extreme Networks saw a change sweeping through LANs
being driven by web technologies. These new applications,
combined with the convergence of Ethernet becoming
the dominant LAN technology and IP becoming the
dominant networking protocol led us to the conclusion
that two new technologies would be critically important:
Layer 3 switching and quality of service (QoS).
We believed that these technologies could be the
basis for a line of products that would redefine
local area networking.
Why did you choose to pursue a relationship
with Norwest Venture Partners?
When you're in the financing business it really
comes down to people, and it was clear that Promod
Haque would bring incredible background to our board
of directors. Our agreement when we first met with
Promod was that he would come in as an equal partner
with other venture capital firms, but he immediately
stepped up and said that he wanted to lead our second
round of financing. We were impressed with Promod's
background and experience in working with companies
and helping them grow into large and significant
organizations–that is really what we were
looking for. We didn't want to go down the path
of a quick sale of the company or a quick cash out.
We really wanted to build something strong, and
Promod Haque and Norwest Venture Partners have helped
us accomplish this goal.
How did Norwest Venture Partners add value
to Extreme Networks?
Norwest Venture Partners has been an extraordinary
business partner, providing us with tremendous guidance
and helping us understand the dynamics of building
a large and successful organization. Promod Haque
and his associate, Paul Vabakos, have been of incredible
value. They have put us in touch with the right
people and always encourage us to open our eyes
and look beyond our immediate business to a broader
What are Extreme Networks' key elements for success?
Our key elements for success really come down to
the early company culture and group of people that
we've hired. If you hire the right group of people
at the beginning, they'll hire additional great
people down the road. I think we're very fortunate
to have built a strong management team and we're
pleased that our first group of employees has stayed
with us. This group has in turn hired quality employees
with similar views and the cultural perspective
of wanting to deliver multiple products to customers–I
think this has really been the underpinning of our
success. Certainly beyond that, we've had a very
intense focus on our target market and have not
been distracted from obtaining our overall goals.
We're pretty tough competitors as well. I think
this has also been an element for success at Extreme
What are the future plans for Extreme Networks
and for you?
Our plans are to continue our quest. We still have
a long way to go in our current market of Layer
3 switching for service provider and enterprise
markets. We have some exciting new product plans
coming down the road and we see a lot of growth
in this space. We certainly are looking at new markets
for our products as well. Our tagline is "building
networks that connect to the Internet." What
we see in the future is that the definition of what
a network is and does will change. The exciting
part for us is basically tracking and leading the
networks that make that change.
As for myself, I'm having a lot of fun right now–so
I want to keep having fun. Fundamentally, that's
what it comes down to for me and the other employees
at Extreme Networks. We enjoy the day-to-day battle
of fighting the "bad guys" and that's
what makes it a thrill. I expect to continue this
for quite awhile.
What are some fun and interesting details
The name Extreme Networks actually came from "extreme
skiing" so I think it's safe to assume that
I'm a skier and so are many of the people at Extreme
Networks. My wife actually came up with the company
name when we were driving home from a ski weekend
from the Kirkwood ski resort near Lake Tahoe. We
thought the name had a lot of the right connotations..
When you think of extreme skiing, you think of pushing
the edge and doing things that people didn't think
could be done. We thought the name would really
fit what our technology does and what we were trying
to do–we basically wanted to upset the "world
order of networking." The market has become
a cozy group of four companies, and we thought coming
in and disrupting this group would be pretty "extreme"–so
as it turns out, the name has really worked over
the years. We also named our main conference room
"Kirkwood" after the origin of "Extreme."
When I'm not upsetting the world order of networking,
I enjoy spending time with my wife, my 5-year-old
son, my two-year-old daughter and our beagle. And
of course, fitting in a couple of days skiing in
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