By Kyt Dotson, SiliconANGLE
Network operations startup Forward Networks Inc. announced today it has raised $50 million in new funding to grow its unique offering that improves enterprise networks by creating “digital twins” of them.
Digital twins are a type of simulation, usually describing real-world objects simulated in virtual environments so that they can be observed, manipulated or operated on. The aim is to understand what’s happening to the actual objects without affecting them directly.
What Forward has done is make mathematically accurate digital twin models for sprawling enterprise networks that can drive actionable insights. The goal is to improve network operations, increase security, allow operations teams to test changes before they apply them in the real world and execute post-mortems of events without having to cause downtime...
Digital twins — virtual representations of actual systems — have become an important component in how engineers and analysts build, visualize and operate AI projects, network security, and other complicated architectures that might have a number of components working (or malfunctioning as the case may be) in tandem. Today, a startup called Forward Networks — which has built digital twin modeling software geared specifically at helping to operate and maintain enterprise networks — is announcing some funding on the heels of strong growth.
The company has raised $50 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue investing in R&D and expanding its base of customers. MSD Partners is leading this round, with new backers Section 32 and Omega Venture Partners also participating alongside previous backers Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs), Threshold Ventures, A. Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz...
Funding led by MSD Partners and includes new investors Section 32 and Omega Venture Partners with participation from existing investors Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Threshold Ventures, A. Capital and Andreessen Horowitz
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jan. 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Forward Networks announced today that it has secured $50M in Series D funding from top-tier venture capital firms. The company provides unique digital twin network modeling software that delivers security, reliability, and agility to large enterprise networks. The funding round, led by MSD Partners, L.P., includes new investors Section 32 and Omega Venture Partners as well as existing investors Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs), Threshold Ventures, A. Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. Additionally, Victor Hwang, managing director and co-head of MSD Growth, joins the Forward Networks board of directors.
Since its last round of funding in 2019, Forward Networks has quadrupled its customer base, opened new headquarters in Santa Clara, California and extended its development team with an office in Bangalore, India. The company achieved 139% ARR growth from FY2021 to FY2022 while experiencing exceptional customer loyalty demonstrated by a 96% retention rate.
By creating a mathematically accurate digital twin of the network, Forward Enterprise delivers actionable insights that enable network operators to make data-driven decisions, prevent errors and improve overall network security, compliance, and health. The platform supports all major networking vendors, hybrid-cloud, and multi-cloud environments, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.
David Erickson, CEO and co-founder of Forward Networks, said, "We're creating a new technology category with a product that our customers deem indispensable as soon as it's implemented. We're excited to put this capital to work to grow sales and deliver a product that unlocks the power of the data inside everyone's digital infrastructure."
"We are exceedingly excited and optimistic about Forward Networks," said Victor Hwang, managing director and co-head of MSD Growth. "As enterprise network architectures grow and become more complex, the necessity for network security and visibility have dramatically increased. Forward's robust and scalable platform addresses this large and growing market need unlike anything else we've seen. As a flexible, long-term partner, MSD Growth seeks to back exceptional growth businesses with proven unit economics and strong commercial acceptance of their products. We're thrilled to lead the company's round of funding and support its next stage of growth."
"Forward Networks is one of the few companies addressing the multi-vendor, multi-cloud reality of enterprise networks," said Andy Harrison, CEO and managing partner, Section 32. "By providing network visualization and verification that supports the entire network, its digital twin puts people back in control of the network. The company has demonstrated substantial growth, underscoring the value of its unique approach to modern enterprises."
"Forward Networks has reached an inflection point in its growth as it innovates across network automation, advanced analytics, and cybersecurity," adds Gaurav Tewari, managing partner at Omega Venture Partners. "Modern enterprises rely on the company's category-defining solutions for transformative insights, intelligence, and proactive risk mitigation. Together with Forward Networks, we are excited to leverage Omega's substantial strategic resources to capture the tremendous growth potential ahead."
Threshold Ventures has been a financial supporter of Forward Networks since its Series B funding in 2017.
"We saw the potential value of the Forward Networks platform right away," said Andreas Stavropoulos, partner at Threshold Ventures. "We've been impressed by the company's growth and the expanded platform capabilities that make insightful and actionable network data available to NetOps, SecOps, and CloudOps teams."
To learn more about Forward Enterprise, visit www.forwardnetworks.com.
About Forward Networks
Forward Networks is revolutionizing the way large networks are managed. Forward's advanced software delivers a digital twin of the network, enabling network operators to ensure that the network is secure, reliable, and agile. The platform supports devices from all major networking vendors and cloud operators, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Forward Networks was founded in 2013 by four Stanford Ph.D. graduates and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California. Investors include MSD Partners, Goldman Sachs, Andreessen Horowitz, Threshold Ventures, Section 32, Omega Venture Partners, and A. Capital. For more information, visit www.forwardnetworks.com.
About MSD Partners
MSD Partners focuses on maximizing long-term capital appreciation across three core areas of investing expertise – Credit, Real Estate, and Growth Equity. It is an affiliate of BDT & MSD Partners, a merchant bank with an advisory and investment platform built to serve the distinct needs of business owners and strategic, long-term investors. Since 2010, BDT MSD Partners' affiliated funds have deployed more than $50 billion across their investment strategies. For more information, visit www.bdtmsd.com.
About Section 32
Section 32 is a venture capital firm investing at the frontiers of technology. Founded by Bill Maris, the team has vast experience building iconic companies. Our goal is to accelerate the discovery, development, and distribution of revolutionary technologies that improve the human condition. We invest across the entirety of technology. This includes cybersecurity, enterprise software, fintech, web3, quantum computing, space, machine learning, artificial intelligence, computational biology, and biotechnology.
About Omega Venture Partners
Omega Venture Partners is a premier technology investment firm headquartered in Silicon Valley. Omega invests in rapidly growing software businesses that leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, data, and automation to deliver transformative solutions. The firm employs a thematic investment strategy to identify large market opportunities and invest in the next generation of category-defining companies. Visit: https://www.omegavp.com.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Great Place to Work and Fortune magazine have honored Forward Networks as one of this year's Best Workplaces in the Bay Area. This is Forward Networks' first time applying for and being named to this prestigious list. Earning a spot means that Forward Networks is one of the best companies to work for headquartered in the highly competitive Bay Area.
This year's Best Workplaces in the Bay Area award is based on employee feedback collected through America's largest ongoing annual workforce study of over 1 million employee survey responses and data from companies representing more than 6.1 million U.S. employees. In that survey, 100% of Forward Networks' employees said Forward Networks is a great place to work. This number is 43% higher than the average U.S. company.
"We're thrilled and humbled that every one of our employees have said we're a great place to work," said David Erickson, Co-founder and CEO, Forward Networks. "Creating an outstanding company culture has always been a priority for the founders; being named to this prestigious list in a region known for taking care of employees the first time we've applied is a phenomenal recognition of our efforts."
The Best Workplaces in the Bay Area list is highly competitive. Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, selected the list using rigorous analytics and confidential employee feedback. Companies were only considered if they are a Great Place to Work-Certified™ organization and headquartered in the Bay Area.
Great Place to Work is the only company culture award in America that selects winners based on how fairly employees are treated. Companies are assessed on how well they are creating a great employee experience that cuts across race, gender, age, disability status, or any aspect of who employees are or what their role is.
"As employee demands and expectations have dramatically changed over the past year, these companies have risen to the occasion—and it's not been easy," says Kim Peters, executive vice president of global recognition, research & strategic partnerships at Great Place to Work. "Their hard work and dedication to listen to and care for the well-being of every employee, and support them in a way that's meaningful to all, is the standard all organizations will be held to."
About Forward Networks
Forward Networks is revolutionizing the way large networks are managed. Forward's advanced software delivers a "digital twin" of the network, enabling network operators to verify intent, predict network behavior, and simplify network management. The platform supports devices from all major networking vendors and cloud operators, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
Forward Networks was founded in 2013 by four Stanford Ph.D. graduates and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California. Investors include Goldman Sachs, Andreessen Horowitz, Threshold Ventures, and A. Capital.
About the Best Workplaces in the Bay Area™
Great Place to Work selected the Best Workplaces in the Bay Area by gathering and analyzing confidential survey responses from its study of thousands of companies representing more than 6.1 million U.S. employees at Great Place to Work-Certified™ organizations. Companies must be headquartered in the Bay Area to be eligible. Company rankings are derived from 60 employee experience questions within the Great Place to Work Trust Index™ survey. Read the full methodology.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work is the global authority on workplace culture. Since 1992, it has surveyed more than 100 million employees worldwide and used those deep insights to define what makes a great workplace: trust. Its employee survey platform empowers leaders with the feedback, real-time reporting and insights they need to make data-driven people decisions. Everything it does is driven by the mission to build a better world by helping every organization become a great place to work For All™.
SOURCE Forward Networks, Inc.
Like many companies, we are adapting to and creating our new normal. At Forward Networks, this will be a hybrid work strategy, where employees will have flexibility but come into the office two or three days a week. Our new approach is based on employee input and designed to create a collaborative environment while protecting the work from home flexibility many employees have come to love. You may wonder, why are we opting for a hybrid workplace?
A hybrid work strategy offers a multitude of benefits that best creates a happy and productive environment for all employees. It enables employees who require in-person collaboration – such as engineering departments – to come into the office and work on projects as needed while affording the option to work at home on days when they need to concentrate on individual tasks.
This approach also helps us recruit the best talent for the job without being tied to specific regions. As we’ve embraced remote collaboration technologies, our teams are finding ways to build relationships and collaborate effectively no matter where they are located.
In the past year, we’ve proven that engineering can be done productively in a remote setting, allowing us to expand our recruitment pool nationwide. For these employees, a hybrid work environment may mean coming into the office monthly or quarterly so they can build relationships with coworkers from all departments without having to move. As a result, Forward Networks’ workforce grew by approximately 40% during the pandemic.
While hybrid workplaces are beneficial, they can come with challenges. Cybersecurity is among the biggest concerns of hybrid or remote working and rightfully so. Cybersecurity risks have undoubtedly increased as a dispersed workforce makes data management trickier. With cybercrimes becoming more sophisticated over time, these risks will only continue to become more abundant.
Luckily, security is an inherent part of our culture, and employees help each other reduce risk. We believe that security is not only technology driven – it’s a mindset. Even the smallest efforts can go a long way. For example, reminding each other to use secure links for virtual meetings. It’s critical for companies, including ours, to have guard rails built into operations so that they can approach security and potential threats in a proactive manner.
Beyond cybersecurity, remote or hybrid work can bring new challenges for leadership. Management is going the extra mile to create an inclusive culture that has a conscious approach to relationship building.
Transition is inevitable in the business world, but when companies need a stable culture, hiring individuals that fit is critical. At Forward Networks, even as we conduct a fully remote hiring process, we work hard to get to know the candidate beyond what was on their resume. This ensures that we hire individuals that are the right fit in terms of attitude and aptitude. New hires often tell management that they’re really happy to be here and the experience of joining is unlike anything they’ve experienced in their careers; they feel “at home,” which is the highest compliment we could ask for.
We’re also dedicated to creating an environment where people can work in the manner that allows them to be their most productive, while embracing their personality. This involves fostering good communication and creating an open, honest environment that embraces each individual’s personal and professional contributions. For example, we strive to emulate the in-person experience as much as possible, such as setting up social channels solely for employees to get out of their work mode and catch up on topics outside of the workplace. Similarly, hosting game nights (e.g., remote bingo, Family Feud, Name that Tune, etc.) or cocktail hours are some of the activities we’ve put in place to bridge the gap.
At the end of the day, we are people first and professionals second. It is mission-critical to give people the flexibility to work the way they need to – enabling employees to work as their best selves. That way, employees are able to thrive at work, which ultimately helps the company achieve long-term success.
Interested in joining our team? Check out our open positions on our careers page.