Stealthy startup at root of Riverbed brain drain

Startup Jut lands $20 million initial funding round

Network management and WAN optimization vendor Riverbed Technologies has had a pretty successful year, in some respects – the company finalized a billion-dollar acquisition of Opnet Technologies, broadened its product lineup, and was the only company to make the "leaders" quadrant of Gartner's magic quadrant report for the WANop sector.

Yet key members of the team are jumping.

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Starting in February of this year, a handful of senior personnel from Riverbed began to leave the company, destined for a startup. The departures coincided with a major slide in the company’s stock price, which dropped from more than $21 to $16.50 in a matter of days and hasn’t been higher than about $17.50 since.

First to leave was co-founder and CTO Steve McCanne, whose departure was announced in a conference call with analysts on Feb. 9. Next out the door, later that month, was CMO Apurva Davè. The two were followed in April by director of engineering Michael Demmer, and in May by technical staffer Andrew Swan and senior finance vice president Larry Castro. Next to leave was Stan Russell, the director of recruiting at Riverbed who left in August.

Like the rest, Russell was headed to Jut, a stealth-mode startup that hints at big plans for speeding up enterprise applications. Jut has been tight-lipped on more specific details, and Davè declined to offer a time frame for public disclosures when contacted.

Still, the language on Jut’s website hints at a key product in the same vein as Riverbed’s Stingray application delivery offering. Stingray automatically applies fixes to web app code and helps with caching and compression.

The most recent ex-Riverbed hire for Jut was October arrival Naveen Prabhu, whose last job was as product manager of the aforementioned Stingray business unit.

Should Jut’s flagship offering turn out to be similar to Stingray, the company may need to move carefully – EMC recently sued startup Pure Storage for alleged theft of its trade secrets, accusing the smaller firm of hiring away key employees who then violated confidentiality agreements.

Currently, Jut is apparently looking for a JavaScript developer with expertise in open-source software, Big Data and networking architecture, according to an ad posted Wednesday on LinkedIn.

The posting also includes the tidbit that Jut has raised $20 million in a recently-closed first round of venture funding.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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