|STEVE MACNAULL/The Daily Courier|
Kelowna-based Vineyard Networks has been acquired by California's Procera Networks in a deal worth $28 million. Vineyard partners Jason Richards, left, Derek Lownsbrugh and Josh Zieske and Procera CEO Jim Brear were on hand at the Accelerate Okanagan office for the announcement in Kelowna earlier this week. Vineyard-Procera's software helps consumers prioritize and maximize their wired and wireless Internet and cable capacity for computers, laptops, smartphones, game devices, TV and home phone.
"Vineyard and Procera are a game-changing combination," said Procera CEO Jim Brear at a packed news conference announcing the acquisition this week at Accelerate Okanagan's offices in downtown Kelowna.
"Simply put, Vineyard builds intelligence for networks. It will become the foundation for every device. It's shockingly incredible."
It may sound like Brear is overstating the situation, but he really isn't.
Vineyard has developed software that can be included in the massive computer
networks that cable and phone companies use to run their wired and wireless TV cable, Internet and phone systems.
The software can maximize Internet speed making everything from downloads and surfing faster, but also enabling business and home networks do more at the same time.
While Vineyard has been acquired by Procera, Vineyard will continue to operate in Kelowna with 34 employees at its offices on Ellis Street downtown.
Vineyard came to Procera's attention in May of 2012, when Vineyard bought some of Procera's hardware to use in testing.
Procera was impressed with Vineyard's software and growth and wanted to be a part of it.
Other Kelowna tech companies that were bought by California firms, but have maintained offices in Kelowna include Club Penguin, which was purchased by Disney and Workfire, acquired by Packeteer.
Packeteer itself was purchased again and the Kelowna office ceased to exist after eight years.
Packeteer in a sense spawned Vineyard because Vineyard's three founders - Jason Richards, Derek Lownsbrough and Josh Zieske - met while working at Packeteer and decided to partner up and strike out on their own.
"Our first office was actually Josh's basement," said Richards.
"And then our first real office was here at Accelerate Okanagan. We were just three people and an idea then. Now we're 34 (employees), likely to be double that size by the end of the year and hopefully we'll add to the innovation and inspiration that will allow more Okanagan tech companies to start and grow."
Vineyard's deal with Procera is $15.4 million Canadian in Procera stock (which is currently trading on the NASDAQ exchange for US$17.75) and $12.6 million in Canadian cash.
It's not uncommon today for a household to have a couple of desktop computers, several laptops and smartphones, a home phone and high-definition flat screen TVs with PVRs and game systems.
When a whole family gets online with such an array of gadgets, it's bound to slow the Internet access down.
"Consumers won't buy networks directly from Vineyard or Procera, because our clients are cable and Internet service providers (like Shaw Cable)," Brear
"But consumers will be able to tell Shaw what priority they want their fastest service. For instance, the phone is always the top
priority and fast movie downloads second.
It will prioritize, but also maximize and give consumers a better overall experience."
Vineyard-Procera already have Shaw Cable as a client and is now courting other big Canadian phone-cable-Internet companies, such as Telus, Rogers and Bell.
It also has several other big clients in the U.S.
Vineyard-Procera networks can also be
designed for business clients such as banks or corporations that have their own systems.
At the news conference, there was lots of joking about Brear leaving sunny and warm California for the announcement in Kelowna, which just had a blizzard.
So at the end of the session Richards
presented Brear with a Canada Goose jacket from MacDermott's Mens Wear in downtown Kelowna to keep him warm on his Canadian forays.
Brear was appreciative, but said he knows how to stay warm in colder climes.
Procera has a research and development
office in central Sweden that he visits
periodically and he just got back from
a family ski trip to Lake Tahoe.
Last year, Vineyard had revenues of about $3 million.
Procera last reported quarterly revenues were $15 million and it has a market capitalization of around $400 million.