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.
By Chiara Regale, VP of Product, Forward Networks
If you’ve been in the technology industry for even a short time, you understand that the predominant characteristic of the sector is change. Chiara Regale, VP of product and UX at Forward Networks, discusses how companies can regain control of their networks amidst continuous change and how to choose the right network twin on the journey.
Often, what is marketed as innovation is merely change for the sake of itself. New technologies and solutions that solve challenges and deliver value are the only forms of meaningful innovation. Digital twin technology is a prime example, as it provides the data and controls to put people back in charge of the network. For some, the phrase is a buzzword; for those who implement it, it’s become the most valuable tool in their arsenal...
Enterprise IT teams around the world are frustratingly familiar with the process of vendor contract reconciliation, the annual process of ensuring that the support contracts for devices in the network are accurate. For enterprise IT teams, this process ensures that hardware in the network is where it's supposed to be, performing accordingly, and covered by the OEM contract.
On the surface, that might not seem like a difficult task. However, large-scale enterprise networks often have hundreds or thousands of pieces of hardware from multiple vendors, and each one must be reconciled on an annual basis. In many cases, information about such hardware is maintained in spreadsheets that have to be updated anytime there are changes.
Not surprisingly, there are many points of failure in this process: Spreadsheets are placed in the wrong location, making them difficult to locate; people forget to update the spreadsheets or just don't take the time to do so; information is not updated correctly; there are multiple copies, owned and updated by different people; data isn't entered accurately and so on.
Ensuring the accuracy of such data directly correlates to bottom-line costs, as hardware vendors are compensated for each device that's part of the contract. Without proper reconciliation, enterprises typically spend tens of thousands of dollars annually to support devices that aren't even on the network.
Likewise, the cost of reconciliation directly correlates to the length of time it takes IT to complete the annual process. In most cases, the reconciliation process is extremely labor-intensive. An engineer must manually login to each device to verify or clarify information in the spreadsheet – this is expensive, time-consuming, and unnecessary. Not only does the process disrupt the normal daily operations, it adds hours and days of work to already resource-strapped IT teams.
Such was the case for one North America digital media and entertainment company with thousands of devices under contract from multiple vendors. The size and diversity of the network turned the reconciliation process into a massive multi-day headache.
When the Forward Networks team learned about the issues this customer was having with reconciliation, they devised a solution using the data already collected within the platform. Forward Enterprise had already built a mathematical model of their network, including thousands of hardware devices. In a matter of minutes, Forward Networks provided visual documentation of the devices, their location, and their serial numbers, enabling the IT professionals to quickly identify the devices in their network that should be part of the vendor support contracts.
Their director of IT shared this feedback; "Before we began using Forward Networks, reconciliation was a best-guess operation. We have so many devices that it would take days to reconcile what the vendor said we had versus what we thought we had. Doing this through Forward Networks gives us much more detailed information and is much more accurate in terms of what we actually have, saving us money and time on the backside."
To learn more about how you can use Forward Networks to overhaul your vendor contract reconciliation process, schedule a demo today. Keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs in this series about how Forward Networks is impacting enterprise networks around the world, including Six-Figure Savings: How A Financial Institution Banked On NQE For Massive Returns; Confidence In Action: Investment Bank Uses Forward Networks To Verify Automation Software; and $6 Million Savings: How Rapid Insights Led To Valuable Network Upgrades.