Cisco will acquire Vancouver's ClearAccess

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter


Updated: March 28, 2012, 6:25 PM

photoJeff McInnis will lead SmartRG Inc. as the newly appointed CEO of the company, the hardware portion of ClearAccess’ business. It will be based in Vancouver with between 15 and 20 employees.



Previously: Launched in 2005, ClearAccess designs and produces tools for telecommunications and broadband Internet users.

What’s new: San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems will acquire ClearAccess’ software business and 22 key employees, including co-founders Ken Hood and Joel Pennington.

What’s next: The hardware portion of ClearAccess’ business will continue as SmartRG Inc. in Vancouver with 15 to 20 employees.

About ClearAccess

Investors: Funded by venture capitalists Capybara Ventures, DFJ Frontier, Montlake Capital, Blade Ventures and Oregon Angel Fund as well .

Revenue: $5.7 million in 2009.

Headquarters: 501 S.E. Columbia Shores Blvd., Vancouver.


Silicon Valley networking giant Cisco Systems announced Wednesday it will acquire Vancouver-based ClearAccess, a 2005 startup that provides tools to telecommunication and broadband providers.

The acquisition includes ClearAccess’ software business and 22 key employees, including co-founders Ken Hood and Joel Pennington. They will report to Cisco’s existing office in Lake Oswego, Ore., which has about 80 employees. Hood will join Cisco as director of technology to promote ClearAccess software at Cisco.

The hardware portion of ClearAccess’ business, called SmartRG Gateways, will continue under the name SmartRG Inc. and will be based in Vancouver with between 15 and 20 employees. The new company says it will invest in broadening its DSL and Ethernet gateway product line.

Specific financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The deal is expected to be completed by July 28, at the end of Cisco’s fiscal year, Robyn Jenkins-Blum, a company spokeswoman stated by email.

The transaction will provide capital to grow the remainder of the company, SmartRG Inc., said Jeff McInnis, newly-appointed CEO. SmartRG sells modems and Wi-Fi routers to about 50 customers that provide broadband cable and telecom service. SmartRG will retain a licensed agreement to use the just-sold software with its devices, a market McInnis expects to grow with its new infusion of capital.

“We’re excited about our ability to invest in the hardware portion of our business and capitalize on the growth,” he said.

Cisco said it acquired ClearAccess’ combined network management and software capabilities to allow service providers to better deliver, manage and monetize their services, while improving operational efficiencies and customer experiences.

“The ClearAccess acquisition reinforces Cisco’s commitment to service providers by accelerating software architectural advancements in mobility, cloud and managed devices, and video,” Jamie Lerner, a vice president and general manager in Cisco Network Management Technology Group, said in a news release.

The sale came as good news to local investors who viewed ClearAccess as a profitable venture, said David Cremin, general partner at DFJ Frontier, a Santa Barbara, Calif., venture capital firm that invested in ClearAccess. The company has raised millions in venture capital.

Cremen said the acquisition is a “smart purchase” for Cisco, which months ago partnered with ClearAccess to use its products.

“Instead of introducing their customers to us, now they’ve integrated our software and they get all the margin,” Cremin said.

McInnis said the sale represents a success for the investors, founders and employees, who had an investment stake in ClearAccess.

“It’s a sense of pride to have the company be recognized by a global leader and sold,” McInnis said. His background includes a 13-year stint in Cisco’s sales department prior to joining ClearAccess as the vice president of solution sales.

Cremin predicted the sale could spur remaining ClearAccess employees to think about their next opportunity, paving the way for a subsequent startup in the region.

“This is exactly how the Silicon Valley happened, and it can happen in the Vancouver-Portland area,” he said. “This is a terrific success story. It all started seven years ago when someone had the vision to use venture capital as the fuel and be patient enough to wait for the results.”

Columbian Business Editor Gordon Oliver contributed to this story.