Networking startup Nile raises $175 million to challenge Cisco

By Krystal Hu

(Reuters) – Nile, a networking startup co-founded by former Cisco Systems executives John Chambers and Pankaj Patel, has raised $175 million in a new round to fund its efforts to build a Cisco competitor, the company said.

The new round, co-led by March Capital and Saudi Arabia‘s sovereign wealth fund, Sanabil Investments, also attracted corporate investors including the venture capital arms of Saudi Telecom Company and Liberty Global.

Nile, which has previously raised $125 million, did not disclose its valuation, but said it had doubled since the last round. Data from PitchBook pegged the company’s valuation at $395 million in 2020.

San Jose-based Nile provides network-as-a-service (NaaS) solution focusing on secure wired and wireless products, offering an alternative in building corporate Wi-Fi, which has been dominated by players including Cisco, Juniper Networks, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Aruba Wireless.

Since its technology became available last May, Nile has signed customers such as Stanford University and startup Carta.

Pankaj Patel, chief executive at Nile, said the young company can challenge the incumbents by offering ease of use at lower cost and advanced security features in its network.

Nile’s services-only offering could save clients 30% to 50% at each location, partly because it is a consumption-based model, so users don’t have to pay upfront fees on equipment or spend on maintenance, Patel claims.

Networking startup Nile raises $175 million to challenge Cisco
John Chambers, former chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems and founder of JC2 Ventures arrives at the “Tech for Good” Summit in Paris, France May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

“We really equate this very much like a utility, that customers are really looking for something which is invisible. That is the level of ease and reliability and simplicity that people need and that is what we have done,” Patel told Reuters.

With 185 employees, the company now plans to expand its sales and marketing team, targeting mid-sized enterprises from 500 to 5,000 employees.

“I think the ambition is to be global and that’s why you have the kind of entities that have invested in this round as good partners for the company’s expansion plan,” said Sumant Mandal, managing partner at March Capital who led the investment.