UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering
University of California San Diego

High Speed, High Stakes

It has been a turbulent, exciting and lucrative 18 months for CSE professor George Varghese and graduate student Sumeet Singh. After developing promising technology to improve the security of high speed communication networks, they founded NetSift in June 2004 to commercialize the technology. Backed with venture capital financing from Enterprise Partners Venture Capital,Varghese took a leave of absence without pay to build the company, and Singh took time out from his Ph.D. program. Then they caught the eye of networking equipment maker Cisco Systems.

CSE graduate student Sumeet Singh and CSE professor George Varghese sold their high-speed networking technology company to Cisco Systems for $30 million in cash and options.

Barely one year after founding their company, Varghese and Singh agreed to sell NetSift to Cisco-for a stunning $30 million in cash and options.

The deal was a coup not just for NetSift's founders and for UCSD (which received a licensing fee for the basic research), but also for the Jacobs School , which is trying to speed the transfer of inventions out of the lab and into the marketplace. Varghese received advisory guidance throughout the startup process from the school's von Liebig Center.

“The traditional criticism of seed-stage investing is that it usually takes eight years and $70 million to take a company from startup to exit,” says center director Kedrosky. “In NetSift's case, that process took barely a year.”

Cisco says that Varghese and his team offered “valuable intellectual property,” allowing the company to “accelerate integration of additional packet processing capabilities into future core Cisco platforms, such as modular switching.”

The research underlying NetSift was co-authored by Varghese, Singh and two other Jacobs School experts: CSE professor Stefan Savage; and then-Ph.D. candidate Cristian Estan (now a professor at the University of Wisconsin , Madison ).

Varghese and Singh are now at Cisco in northern California . Singh will stay on, but for Varghese the re-location is only temporary: he will return to the Jacobs School in 2006 after his leave .Meantime, Cisco's involvement means the UCSD born technology will be built into real world products that much quicker—and make communication over the high-speed Internet that much more secure.

Related Links
News Release: Cisco Systems Acquires Startup Network Security Firm Founded by UC San Diego Computer Scientists
Website: Cisco Systems
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