Infinera: The $215,000,000 Startup

Justin Hibbard

Optical networking company Infinera Corp. has just raised $10 million in its sixth round of preferred stock financing, bringing its total amount raised since it was founded in 2000 to $215 million. That's a lotta dough.

The Sunnyvale, Calif. company's latest financing was an "inside round," meaning the investors were already shareholders from previous rounds. They included VC firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Benchmark Capital, and Mobius Technology Ventures; chipmaker Cypress Semiconductor; chip equipment maker Applied Materials; and Siebel Systems CFO Ken Goldman.

After four years of research and development, Infinera began shipping product for the first time at the end of last year. Its costs have run higher than most recently founded optical startups because it owns a manufacturing facility and is building an entire system rather than components. The company scored a big win in May when telecom company Level 3 Communications Inc. said it will install Infinera's equipment throughout its national network by year-end. Analysts reportedly valued the deal at about $50 million. It will take several more deals like that to generate a decent return on $215 million.

UPDATE 8/3/05: According to this report, Infinera's latest $10 million funding was not an inside round. Apparently, the round was led by a new mystery investor from Colorado. (Hint: Level 3 Communications is in Colorado.)

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