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Our portfolio company Framehawk Inc. was acquired by Citrix in January 2014.

Prior to founding Framehawk, Peter Badger had nineteen years of experience in software product management and product development, overseeing groups mostly in the financial services industry. Rocket scientist Stephen Vilke, the company’s other founder, started his career with NASA for six years. He developed technical data reduction and graphic display software for three different NASA space missions. Badger and Vilke met one another while working at Barclays Global Investors, the asset management arm of Barclays. Both were involved with highly-secure, real-time applications used for stock market trading.

In August of 2008, the two became partners in bootstrapping the company that eventually became Framehawk. The partners pursued a classic entrepreneurship path: Rather than raise money, they started consulting to earn money while developing the technology that would be the product they really wanted to sell. Badger became CEO of the company, while Vilke became CTO and head of development. The trick in bootstrapping with consulting revenue is to keep the efforts separate, so the company had two operating entities – one for product development and one for consulting. They divided their time so that half was spent on developing a virtualization technology, and the other half was spent providing consulting to large financial service organizations.

Badger and Vilke developed the world’s first truly secure virtual-services platform. They used virtualization and graphics technology to deliver secure cloud services for any end user, on any device or operating system, anywhere. The technology focused on the user’s total web experience for all applications and services, following the user securely and without noticeable latency – what can be thought of as a “presence server.” With the “presence server,” Framehawk focused on services for any device from anywhere – rather than on specific device services that were operating system-based or device centric.

When our partner, Bill Coleman, discovered Framehawk in 2010, we saw the promise of Framehawk’s technology, particularly for applications, with the introduction that year of tablets, led by the iPad. What was not vet visible that year was how fast the iPad was adopted inside major corporations, particularly in banks and financial service companies, as a sales tool. Bill Coleman and Gilman Louie led a two-stage investment in the company in fall of 2010. Framehawk raised a total of $5.5 million from Alsop Louie Partners, along with Correlation Ventures and Triangle Peak Partners.

Framehawk was able to work with several customers and book more than $5M in revenue in 2011. The wealth-management arm of Switzerland’s UBS AG, one of those customers, believed in the importance of a mobile technology strategy that allowed its financial advisors to securely interact with clients’ account information while on the go.

With that sort of customer traction, the company was approached by several top-tier venture capital firms to lead their Series B financing. We were fortunate to have Matrix Partners lead an $11 million financing round in the company in December 2011.

In 2012, Framehawk decided that the strategy of operating as a middleware platform company, which required customers to develop applications and integrate their solutions into the products, increased the sales cycle enough that the company could not scale quickly. Supported by the same virtualization technology, the company decided to re-engineer the product into a turn-key platform where customers could add in applications that were already pre-configured across the virtual client for mobile and laptop.

The team was fortunate to find and hire Steven Farnworth, who previously worked at SafeNet and i365 and was a 20-year veteran of enterprise product development, to lead that development effort. Farnworth worked magic and the product was introduced on time and as specified. Tragedy struck in the summer of 2013, when Farnworth passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a fatal heart attack at the age of 57. He left the company with a world-class product suite, but without a development leader. The company buckled down and focused on deployment, despite the tragedy.

Framehawk began discussing the possibility of strategic investment with several major software companies. Discussions culminated in the acquisition of the company by Citrix at the beginning of 2014. Citrix has been the biggest name in desktop virtualization since the idea of virtualizing desktop operating systems first took hold in the 1990s. Framehawk adds to their technology by bringing desktops to mobile devices. It also provides a protocol for transmission that performs extraordinarily well on networks that aren’t always reliable. Performance does not degrade on WiFi and 3G cellular networks, even when those networks are heavily loaded. Citrix plans to combine Framehawk’s technology with Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop.

We are proud to have had the chance to work with the team at Framehawk over the past few years and wish the best for their work with Citrix.

Ernestine Fu authored this post.

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