Bringing together the original team that worked on the development of the early internet, ACC become a leading manufacturer of wide area inter-networking products that provide cost-effective interconnection and management of geographically distributed computer networks. The company grew to $54 million in sales before being acquired by Ericsson for $285 million in cash.
The Internet was born in 1975 when the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) commissioned MIT, UCLA and the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB) to develop a reliable digital network for computer communication. One year after government funding, Dr. Ossama Hassanein began working at Bell Northern Research on the commercial applications of the Internet.
By 1990, the Internet “backbone” was built and it was clear that a booming market of connectivity was about to develop. To address the emerging opportunity, he assembled the UCSB team that worked on the Internet under contract from DARPA, and launched ACC.
As chairman and CEO of ACC, Dr. Hassanein raised the funds to launch the product (a remote router branded the “Nile”), accelerate market share acquisition, and to expand internationally The Company was initially financed by three angel investors, and subsequently by two strategic partners and six leading venture capitalists. A total of $14 million was committed between 1990 and 1992.
The Company strategy was to build best of breed remote routers and to grow through strategic alliances not only for distribution (Alcatel, BT, and a global network of resellers in 60 countries), but also for product development to enrich and accelerate internal R&D.
An Egyptian team, under the leadership of Dr. Tarek Kamel, who later became Minister of IT and Communications in Egypt, worked with the Santa Barbara team to develop products well adapted to the global market. This team was also responsible for the introduction of the Internet to Egypt.
Through the 1990s, ACC enjoyed a significant ramp in sales growing from zero to $54 million in 1998. Its routers, which allowed connectivity to the Internet, were used in the world’s most advanced networks including those of Wal-Mart, Bloomberg, BMW, La Poste, Swedish Parliament, British Telecom, and 3,000 other leading clients.
In September 1998, Ericsson acquired ACC for $285 million in cash, providing shareholders and employees with rich returns on their investment.