Verizon selling off net innovator BBN

FRAMINGHAM (02/06/2004) - Verizon Communications Inc. Friday announced it has sold off BBN Technologies to the subsidiary's management team in conjunction with venture capital firm Accel Partners and private equity outfit General Catalyst Partners LLC. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

BBN, which was founded in 1948, came to Verizon by way of the merger of former BBN parent company GTE with Bell Atlantic in 2000. The GTE-Bell Atlantic combination became Verizon.

R&D specialist BBN has cemented its place in network industry lore through its operation of ARPANET, a precursor of the Internet, and the first implementation of packet switching in 1969. More recently, the company has made advances on the security front in the area of quantum cryptography.

Never a huge self-promoter, the organization has been particularly quiet since becoming a Verizon unit. BBN lists just three 2003 press releases on its Web site, for instance.

The company will continue to be led by Tad Elmer, who has been president since 1999 and a member of the organization for more than 25 years.

Accel Managing Partner Jim Breyer said in a statement that the venture firm bought into BBN mainly to get access to its team. "These are simply people we wanted to be in business with," he said, noting how the company's penchant for technology innovations is in line with the kinds of start-ups Accel looks to fund.

Verizon said it is dealing BBN as part of its ongoing review of assets.

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