Bruce Hunt’s journey into the world of local area networking (LAN) began when he read Robert Metcalfe’s paper titled “Ethernet: Distributed Packet Switching for Local Computer Networks” published in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in May 1976. His reaction was immediate. For months afterwards, he was consumed with working out Metcalfe’s ideas for himself. During this exploration, a friend told him about Zilog, an exciting start-up, that was hiring. His skills and experiences matched their needs. Soon, Hunt had the freedom to further develop his entry-level LAN technology he named “Ariel.” Only Zilog had too many senior people already committed to the Ethernet technology to consider Ariel. Hunt left Zilog in September 1978 to further his education at Stanford University. One of his professors, Fouad A. Tobagi, whom he had met at a Zilog gathering, encouraged his interests. Together they wrote a paper on CSMA/CD that they presented at the seminal Local Area Communications Network Symposium in May 1979. After Stanford, Hunt worked at SRI International before launching Metapath. With Norman Dion’s investment made in March 1983, Hunt was able to hire the needed personnel to sufficiently develop their product for presentation to venture capitalist investors. The story of Metapath demonstrates the profusion of new technologies and start-ups characteristic of a new market, and the consolidation inevitably forced by a dominant design.
A friend, Robert “Bob” Duggan, asked me to visit a “garage shop” start-up that he was interested in investing in. At the time, Bruce Hunt and a couple of engineers and a few consultants rented a few rooms in downtown Menlo Park. The meeting went well, so I started spending time with the team, conducting due diligence and trying to be of help. Bob then made an ‘Angel” investment and Bruce incorporated “Hunt 4th” and finished the first draft of a business plan. Before long, he was invited to make a presentation to Norman “Norm” Dion, the founder of the successful company, Dysan, and a substantial Angel investor. The story of their presentations to Dion and his executive management team, as covered in this interview, is one that anyone interested in understanding the emotional dynamics of fundraising will not want to miss. Hunt 4th was reorganized as Metapath and a number of rounds of venture capital were raised. The story of Metapath is a promising one until the Ethernet standard was established. Metapath struggled for years to survive before accepting foreclosure.
Keywords: Zilog, Inc., Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Carrier sense multiple access (CSMA), Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), MITRE Corporation, Local Area Communications Network (LACN), Ariel, Metapath, Dysan, ZNet