February 15, 2013
‘We were always
focused on building great products’
It took Ankur Singla, founder and chief executive officer of the California-based Contrail Systems, just two days after he officially launched the startup to sell it. It was
acquired by California-based Juniper Networks in the kind
of multi-million dollar deal that budding entrepreneurs
Singla discusses the deal and the journey.
The entrepreneur, who sold his startup in a multi-million deal within two days
of launching it, speaks to Faisal Kidwai
You and your small team launched the tiny startup
Contrail Systems December 11, 2012, and it was bought just
after two days for $176 million by Juniper Networks. How
did it feel to sign such a big deal and earn millions within
two days of the launch?
The Business Interview
The company was incorporated in April 2012 and we
were in early development phase from April to December
2012. We started customer trials in the second week of
December and that is when we were acquired.
The acquisition price is not disclosed — since Juniper
was an early investor in the company, it bought the remaining shares for $176 million.
We were always focused on building great products and
that is a journey — we are far from done. Most of the
employees of the company have been in the industry for a
while and are focused on the product and less amused by
the financial aspects of the deal.
You have been building networking products and running
operations for 14 years, including successful stints at Aruba
Network and Juniper. How did your journey began?
After graduating from Stanford University, I worked as
an engineer developing custom ASI’s for networking products at Motorola, GM Hughes, and Cisco where I learnt a
lot about building complex systems.
After Cisco, I spent four years at Juniper where I met the
founders of Contrail. There we built Juniper’s Ethernet
switching business from grounds up with custom ASICs,
hardware, and software.
Those four years were the most memorable times of my
professional life as we successfully competed with Cisco in
their core market.
Tell us a bit about Contrail Systems.
Contrail’s mission was singular — disrupt the stodgy networking vendors who were having a difficult time transitioning from hardware oriented systems to software centric
The agility and automation of the infrastructure that had
become a competitive advantage for Google and Amazon
had to be brought to enterprise environment and that
would not be possible without re-working of the networking and storage stacks.
We decided to tackle the networking piece first as that
was our core competency.
What’s your relationship with India like? Do you visit it
I have relatives in India and I do visit India very often,
mostly Bangalore where we have a development centre.
Any advice for young entrepreneurs, especially Indian
There are two things that are more important than anything in building a great business — great products and
Great products are built by great teams; focus on hiring
the best people and be generous in sharing equity in the
Be agile in your product development cycle and willing to
pivot as you learn along the way.
Roomy Khan gets 1 year in
prison for insider trading
Roomy Khan, a former Intel executive and a key government informant in the hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam case, has
been sentenced to one year in prison and fined
$1.5 million on insider trading charges.
The 54-year-old was sentenced in a Manhattan
federal court February 7 by United States District
Judge Jed Rakoff to 12 months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release.
Judge Rakoff credited Khan, who was born and
raised in New Delhi, with ‘huge cooperation’ in
the Rajaratnam probe, which has been touted as
the biggest hedge fund insider trading investigation in US history.
She became a key Federal Bureau of
According to statements made during Khan’s
guilty plea proceeding, from 2004 through 2007,
Khan participated in insider trading schemes in
which she provided material, nonpublic informa-
tion about various publicly-traded companies to a
number of individuals, including Rajaratnam and
president and founder of Whitman Capital Doug
— Press Trust of India
Roomy Khan, right, exits the Manhattan federal courthouse with er lawyer, following her sentencing