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Issue date: July 26, 2000

Memory of Bruce Nelson serves as inspiration for new networking company Memory of Bruce Nelson serves as inspiration for new networking company (July 26, 2000)

Caw Networks finds its vision and name from Menlo Park man

By Tim Kane

Bruce Nelson was far from your average Silicon Valley technology drone.

Oh, the former Menlo Park resident was typically brilliant, working as the chief science officer at Cisco Systems, possessing a doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Mellon and winning an award from the Association of Computer Machinery for his work on client/server computing. There was another side to Mr. Nelson, however, that no degree or award can accurately describe.

In college, he rode his bicycle on the roof of a library that was still under construction. At the Varsity Theatre in Palo Alto, he won a costume contest at a showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. And at work, he referred to himself as the "King of the Ethernet," carrying a scepter while wearing a tutu and Ethernet cable to meetings. He was, in a word, unique.

Bruce Nelson died last September following emergency heart surgery, at the age of 47. His friends still think about him on a daily basis, most notably John Dunham, also of Menlo Park. And so when discussing a new technology venture he was starting with a colleague, it was only a matter of time before Bruce's name came up.

"As we discussed Bruce, his enthusiastic spirit, his technical excellence and impeccable work ethic, we realized we'd found our company vision," said Mr. Dunham. "We'd also found the name."

Mr. Nelson, it seems, loved crows. The crow was his personal symbol, and he was known for "Caw"-ing everywhere, from mountaintops to meetings.

Mr. Dunham's vision became known as Caw Networks, a Mountain View company that will make products for the infrastructure of the Internet. Caw's first product will be released later in the year, but already the company is receiving praise for its technology.

"I have seen first-hand the Internet infrastructure problems that Caw's products will solve, and applaud (CEO) Andrew Foss and the mission of Caw Networks, said Ed Kozel, chief technology officer at Cisco, and Mr. Nelson's former boss. "This is something Cisco's customers need."

Caw Networks received $9 million in initial funding from Menlo Ventures and various individual investors, many of whom have ties with Cisco.


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