Wall Street Journal Pro VC By Cat Zakrzewski
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is no stranger to networking companies, backing pioneers such as Juniper Networks Inc.
But more recently, venture firms have left networking to the tech incumbents while focusing on applications and software. Mist, a company building AI-powered wireless networks, is countering that trend with a $46 million round led by Kleiner Perkins.
Also participating were Lightspeed Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, GV, NTTDOCOMO Ventures and Dimension Data.
Mist said it would use the funding to expand sales and marketing, as well as engineering. The four-year-old company aims to provide more predictable and reliable Wi-Fi and enhanced location-based services. Its customers include some large technology companies.
With the new funding, Kleiner Perkins General Partner Mamoon Hamid will join Mist as a board observer. Mr. Hamid joined Kleiner after leaving Social Capital, a firm he co-founded, last year. It is the second investment Mr. Hamid has announced during his tenure at Kleiner, and the first growth investment.
Mr. Hamid said he would continue to focus on early-stage investment, but he felt Mist presented a growth-multiple opportunity on par with an early-stage company.
He said that cloud-based architectures and the way mobile phones are used within an enterprise have changed dramatically. But most networking options haven’t, he said, adding, “Nothing has been built in the last decade.”