Indian techie sells company to Cisco for $3.7 billion

BENGALURU: There’s something about the name Bansal. After Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal of Flipkart, Mukesh Bansal of Myntra, Rohit Bansal of Snapdeal and Peyush Bansal of LensKart, yet another Bansal has made a killing with a startup.

Jyoti Bansal,, an IIT Delhi graduate, has just sold the company he founded eight years ago in the US, AppDynamics, to Cisco for $3.7 billion. Bansal now owns 14% of the company, after having diluted his stake to many venture funds over the years. So he’ll get about $520 million (Rs 3,400 crore).

The announcement came a day before AppDynamics was to launch its IPO, which valued the company at $2 billion. AppDynamics’ last round of funding had valued it at $1.9 billion. So the price that Cisco agreed to pay is almost twice of that.

Bansal graduated from IIT Delhi in 1999 and moved to the US soon after. In an article in the run-up to the IPO, Forbes magazine wrote that Bansal’s father had given him $200 so he could go to Silicon Valley.

In a blog posted just after the announcement of the acquisition, Bansal says he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur even when he was helping his father manage his business back in India. Software was his passion, a “magic clay” that could be used “to sculpt solutions to different problems”. The Bansal community, a sub-sect of the Aggarwal community, is also known to be skilled at trade and commerce.

After graduation, Bansal shifted to Cupertino on an H-1B visa to work for a startup. He had to wait for almost eight years before he got his green card. “I waited seven years for my employment-based green card and I wanted to leave my job and start a new company but couldn’t,” he told Forbes in a 2016 interview.

In 2005, Bansal joined Wily Technology as an architect. CA (Computer Associates) bought the company in 2006, and two years later, Bansal left CA to start AppDynamics.

Bansal’s struggles continued during the initial days of building the venture. Many days were spent making the rounds of Sandhill Road in Silicon Valley, looking for investor interest. “The nights were spent coding on the couch in San Francisco,” he recalls in his blog.

He faced about 20 rejections from VCs before getting his first funding of $5 million. In the meantime, Bansal also convinced his friend Bhaskar Sunkara to join the venture. After that it looked like one high after another. AppDynamics went on to raise more than $350 million in eight funding rounds from Silicon Valley investors that included Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Greylock Partners, Goldman Sachs and Battery Ventures.

AppDynamics, which has over 900 employees, develops software to help companies monitor their mobile apps and websites for bugs and fix them before customers drop off. It was expected to be the first tech company in 2017 to go for an IPO.

With the acquisition, AppDynamics will continue to be led by CEO David Wadhwani, to whom Bansal had handed over the reins in 2015. Bansal then took on the role of chairman. Wadhwani was previously with Adobe and Oracle. “AppDynamics will be a new software business unit under Rowan Trollope, Cisco senior vice-president and general manager, IoT and applications business,” Cisco said.

This is Cisco’s largest acquisition after its 2013 acquisition of US-based security company Sourcefire for $2.7 billion. Hilton Romanski, Cisco’s head of corporate strategy, told news agency Bloomberg: “It is important for Cisco to have market-leading software in our portfolio to deliver on this journey that we’ve been on for some time (to transform Cisco by offering customers more flexible, customizable products that will generate recurring revenue). This asset is best in class. We believe this is one of the best teams out there to help us on our journey.”

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