Carlyle, Atlas exit UK’s Orthogon Systems

Motorola has acquired UK wireless Ethernet solutions provider Orthogon Systems.

The Carlyle Group and Atlas Venture have sold Orthogon Systems, a UK-based provider of wireless Ethernet solutions, to Motorola for an undisclosed sum.

According to Graham O’Keefe, senior partner at Atlas Venture, the firm initially invested in Orthogon in February 2000 through its Atlas Venture Fund V vehicle, which closed on €750 million ($925 million) in 2000. Carlyle invested from its €553 million Carlyle Europe Venture Partners fund.

Motorola already has a stake in Orthogon through its Motorola Ventures subsidiary, which led an $8 million fourth-round investment in the business alongside Carlyle and Atlas, with venture debt financing provided by California-based Lighthouse Capital Partners.

O’Keefe said in an interview that Orthogon received $32 million in financing in total, of which $4 million came from Lighthouse Capital Partners.

Founded in 2000 as PipingHot Networks before re-branding in 2002, Ashburton, England-headquartered Orthogon designs wireless Ethernet bridges that provide point-to-point broadband solutions for government agencies, schools, hospitals and internet service providers.

O’Keefe said his involvement with Orthogon’s founders goes back to 1999. “We sketched out what we were trying to do and actually registered the domain name on my PC,” he said. “The whole telecoms market imploded during 2001 and we had to restart the company and begin under a new name in 2002 as an enterprise-focused company.”

Ex-Lucent chairman Gerard Wesel was hired as a US-based chairman and a strategy to build up a sales team in America was put in place. “We started selling the product in 2003 and have successfully ramped up revenues, with the business profitable last year, which is not bad within two-and-a-half years,” added O’Keefe.