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Vendor Summary Reports examine recent quarterly results and items of interest about key vendors in the optical market. Occasionally we also write in-depth profiles of smaller companies that we think are interesting.

It’s not often that a new vendor enters the optical networking scene. The field has narrowed over the past decade, with upstarts such as Cyan, BTI, and Transmode absorbed into larger players. It’s therefore notable when a small newcomer like Smartoptics outperforms the market and does so with a unique mix of customers while riding the powerful trends driving the industry.  Smartoptics doesn’t yet hold single-digit market share, but its rapid growth – based on a complete and total embrace of open networking, disaggregation, and IP-over-DWDM – makes it worth paying attention to.

Company Background

Smartoptics may be a recent arrival among DWDM systems vendors, but it has been around since the early 2000’s. Headquartered in Oslo, the company has long been a supplier of optical transceivers and was owned by Finisar (now Coherent) for a brief time. And while the datacom transceiver market has commoditized, Smartoptics carved out a unique and lasting niche selling long-reach and WDM Fibre Channel transceivers. Its market position was solidified in 2008 when it partnered with market leader Brocade (now part of Broadcom) to supply Fibre Channel transceivers for the company’s SAN switches. Similar relationships followed with Cisco and storage OEMs including Dell/EMC and IBM. Smartoptics effectively owns this niche market.

The modern incarnation of Smartoptics and its transformation into a WDM systems vendor dates to the 2016 arrival of the Stockholm-based management team led by CEO Magnus Grenfeldt. Since then, the company has grown at more than 20% annually and went public in 2021 on the Euronext Growth exchange in Oslo, where its market capitalization currently stands at roughly $180M, up 80% from its IPO valuation. Grenfeldt draws upon decades of WDM experience at Infinera, Transmode, ADVA, and others, whereas the balance of company leadership and engineering hails from Transmode precursor Lumentis. Corporate functions are split between the two cities.

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