• United States

ISPs win fresh funding

Sep 10, 20032 mins
Internet Service ProvidersNetworking

* Venture capital investments in ISPs rise, survey finds

If you think venture capital investments in Internet infrastructure and services start-ups are a relic of the late 1990s, think again. An analysis of the MoneyTree Survey compiled each quarter by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Venture Economics and the National Venture Capital Association shows that a solid amount of money continues to be pumped into ISPs including broadband and wireless carriers.

During the first half of 2003, more than $488 million was invested in 50-plus telecommunications start-ups. This figure represents about 12% of the $4.2 billion invested this year in all kinds of network companies including hardware, software and services start-ups.

In the second quarter, venture firms invested $299 million in telecommunications start-ups, up almost 60% over the $189 million invested in the first quarter. However, the second quarter numbers were skewed by a single $156 million investment in WildBlue Communications, an Englewood, Colo., provider of satellite-based broadband services.

In the telecommunications segment, the average investment this year was $9.3 million. However, four deals topped $25 million each.

The current investment levels “are healthy enough,” says Kirk Walden, national director of venture capital research for PricewaterhouseCoopers.  “It’s not nearly as glamorous as a few years back…but this is the kind of investment that’s sustainable.”

Overall, investments in network startups have hovered between $2 billion and $2.4 billion for the last four quarters.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that we can stay at this kind of level for the rest of the year,” Walden says.

The largest deals involving service providers were:

* $156 million cash infusion in WildBlue Communications.

* $15 million invested in STSN, a Salt Lake City provider of high-speed, wireless Internet access to hotels.

* $11 million invested in Virtela Communications, a Greenwood Village, Colo., provider of managed IP VPNs.

* $10.5 million invested in airBand Technology, a Dallas provider of wireless broadband services.

In upcoming newsletters, we’ll profile each of the ISPs that received significant venture funding this year.