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High-speed networker IronBridge files for bankruptcy

The 3-year-old start-up files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection after it fails to secure extra financing or find a buyer.

    Start-up IronBridge Networks has filed for bankruptcy protection after it failed to secure extra financing or find a buyer, CNET News.com has confirmed.

    IronBridge, which laid off 90 percent of its staff in late January, built a high-speed networking device to compete against networking giant Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks and Avici Systems.

    As expected, the company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection Wednesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, meaning it will liquidate all its assets.

    The 3-year-old start-up failed to secure an extra $100 million in financing in late January. A small group of about 15 to 20 employees remained to look for more venture capital or a buyer.

    Analysts say IronBridge is the latest victim of the slump in the overall technology sector, where several companies have missed financial earnings, and stock prices have plummeted. Networking companies have not been immune to financial woes, with Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies and 3Com all announcing recent profit warnings.

    But IronBridge is also a victim of an investor that had a change in plans.

    IronBridge is partly owned by French telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel and some analysts have wondered whether Alcatel would step in and save the start-up. The company could not immediately be reached for comment, but analysts have speculated that Alcatel doesn't need IronBridge's technology because the company has its own plans to develop a high-end router.

    Analysts say IronBridge built technology that would have competed well in a market dominated by Cisco and Juniper. The market for high-end routers, used by telecommunications carriers to build faster networks, is expected to grow from $4.5 billion in revenue in 2001 to $12.7 billion by 2003, according to market research firm RHK.

    The Lexington, Mass.-based company, which claimed to have two telecommunications service providers testing its products, needed the extra funding to manufacture its products and increase its marketing and sales staff, executives said.