Microsoft acquires Affirmed Networks ahead of 5G deployments


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York on November 7, 2019.

Brad Barket | Getty Images for Fast Company

Microsoft said Thursday it has agreed to buy Affirmed Networks, a company that specializes in software for mobile carriers. Specifically, Affirmed provides a way for carriers to grow networks to meet increasing demand by drawing on cloud infrastructure.

The Acton, Mass.-based company was founded in 2010 and has 552 employees, according to LinkedIn. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

One investor in the company, John Vrionis of Unusual Ventures, tweeted that it was a “‘unicorn’ acquisition,” implying that Microsoft paid at least $1 billion for the company. However, Vrironis said he was not at liberty to discuss the transaction, and the companies did not respond to inquiries on the price.

The deal could help Microsoft bolster a growing part of the business, the Azure public cloud, which trails behind Amazon Web Services, by offering products that are more appropriate for a specific industry. The move shows Microsoft looking to capitalize on opportunities to grow as network operators roll out fast fifth-generation, or 5G, networks. 

“Previous generations of wireless networks have been based on purpose-built hardware,” Yousef Khalidi, a corporate vice president at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. “We believe that with innovation in software and by making use of broadly available cloud computing platforms like Microsoft Azure, operators can deploy and maintain 5G networks and services more efficiently, more cost effectively, more rapidly and more securely.”

Affirmed customers include AT&T, Orange, SoftBank, Telus and Vodafone, according to the company’s website.

Microsoft and Amazon have both sought to capitalize on 5G. Microsoft announced a major deal with AT&T last year.

Investors include Qualcomm Ventures.

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