Earlier in the month, CDN provider Highwinds announced it had acquired privately held Bandcon in a cash and stock deal. While terms of the deal were not announced, the buyout includes an earn out component for Bandcon based on meeting revenue targets. In conjunction with the acquisition, the company also announced that they have hired Steve Liddell as the new President of their CDN business. I got a chance to spend some time recently with Steve Liddell and Highwinds CEO Steve Miller and got more details on the acquisition and company’s revenue growth.
For those that track the CDN market, Steve Liddell’s name will look familiar. Steve was formerly the CEO of Panther Express, (and before that worked at Level 3) where he was brought on by Panther’s investors in 2008 to sell the company, a task he accomplished with the sale of Panther Express to CDNetworks in February of last year. This time around though it’s much different for Steve as he’s not being asked to sell a company, but rather build up Highwinds’ CDN services and help grow their market share.
When Highwinds announced they had acquired Bandcon, most folks I spoke to didn’t know who Bandcon was or what they offered. While Bandcon called themselves a Content Delivery Network, they actually re-sold Limelight, Level 3 and Highwinds delivery services and the company’s primary source of revenue came from services like transit, co-location and managed hosting. Many didn’t know the Bandcon name and the company didn’t do a lot of marketing, but they has just celebrated their 10th year in the industry and were quite respected by many as smart tech guys with a nice small business. While Bandcon’s revenue numbers for 2009 were not disclosed, the company did $20.4M in revenue in 2008 and late last year, ranked 20th on the Inc. 500 Magazine, 2009 List of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the Telecommunications category.
Highwinds themselves have been very quiet in 2010, which company CEO Steve Miller says has been primarily due to the fact that they have been focusing on the Bandcon acquisition, building out in Brazil and just completed a $35M debt refinancing. For Highwinds, acquiring Bandcon is a great fit as it doubles the size of their network to almost 4TBps, provides them with additional buying power and provides Highwinds with a new sales presence on the West Coast. In addition, with Bandcon having more than 300 customers and generating a lot of their revenue from services outside of CDN, it also enables Highwinds to help diversify their revenue, something every CDN is currently working hard to accomplish.
Speaking of revenue, with the Bandcon acquisition, Highwinds expects to do $100M in revenue for this year, with $33M in EBITDA and unlike most companies in the space, is profitable. To put that in perspective, Limelight Networks had $134M in revenue last year with $12M of that being EBITDA positive. The company is taking on 32 of Bandcon’s employees and with some additional hiring, they expect to have a head count of about 175 employees by the end of the year.
If Highwinds reaches their target goals, there will now be six companies in the industry who have a CDN offering, doing more than $100M in revenue this year. That’s not to say that all of these companies are actually doing $100M in CDN specific revenue, but you now have Akamai, AT&T, CDNetworks, Highwinds, Limelight Networks and Level 3 who are all $100M+ companies.
For Highwinds, I see the acquisition of Bandcon as an opportunity to re-launch their CDN services, create a name for themselves in the market and develop their CDN messaging of who they are and what they offer. The company now has all of the pieces they need to be successful in the market, is highly profitable and now just needs to attack the market, exposing content owners to their brand and their services.