M87, a Seattle-area networking startup led by former T-Mobile executive Cole Brodman, was acquired last month by XCOM, a new company led by former Qualcomm CEO and chairman Paul Jacobs.
The news was revealed Monday by The Wall Street Journal in a story that details how Jacobs dropped plans to take Qualcomm private and is now focusing on San Diego-based XCOM.
M87 launched out of Austin, Texas in 2014 and relocated to Seattle in late 2016. That’s when Brodman, who spent 17 years at T-Mobile — including stints as CMO and CTO — took over as CEO.
M87 develops technology to help wireless carriers improve network performance by creating dynamic device-to-device mesh networks. It’s similar to what Jacobs, whose father founded Qualcomm, and a group of former Qualcomm execs are building at XCOM: “giving everyone’s phones the ability to route traffic like a cell tower,” as WSJ reported.
“We believed in the XCOM thesis of edge networks and compute, and Paul’s vision on how device-to-device technologies will enhance wireless networks,” Brodman told GeekWire in an email Monday evening. “That’s been our thesis all along, so it’s a great match. Plus, the XCOM team has some fantastic engineering talent and track record in wireless technology to help amplify our go-to-market and product roadmap.”
M87 was folded into XCOM but will continue developing its technology, Brodman said. The company’s 20 or so employees are staying onboard, including Brodman. “XCOM likes the access to telecom and software talent in the Seattle area and is keeping an office here,” Brodman added.
XCOM had about 30 employees before acquiring M87. It raised additional investment to buy the Seattle-area company, per the WSJ. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
M87 had raised around $12 million. It reeled in a $5 million fundraising round in 2016 led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Qualcomm Ventures, the company’s VC arm, and Trilogy Equity Partners, the Seattle-area firm where Brodman holds a position as partner.
“It can be a really interesting business,” Brodman said in 2016. “There aren’t a lot of solutions today to help wireless carriers solve coverage capacity problems and most require them to build new cell sites. I’m excited about software-based solutions to approach this problem.”
Brodman left T-Mobile in 2012 and spent the next four years as a board member for a handful of startups.
Len Jordan, managing director at Madrona, told GeekWire he’s excited to see M87 “realize its vision for extending the power of networks all the way to the edge.”
“The acquisition by XCOM is a great outcome for everyone involved,” he said. “The combined team has the experience and skill to reshape an industry.”