With $48 million in new investor money, Cradlepoint looking to expand overseas

Boise’s Cradlepoint says it has grown like gangbusters since 2011, tripling its employee roster to 300 and increasing year-over-year sales by more than 60 percent each year.

CEO George Mulhern hopes that’s just the start for the mobile wireless-router maker. The company just got a big boost, attracting $48 million from investors led by Sorenson Capital, a private equity firm in Salt Lake City that holds more than $1 billion in assets.

“This is a substantial raise,” Mulhern said. “It gives us lots of running room and opportunity to keep scaling the company.”

Cradlepoint sells wireless routers and services to businesses, including stores, restaurants, financial service companies, kiosk operators and bus systems. Clients typically use Cradlepoint routers and services to process payments and operate computer networks across dozens, hundreds or even thousands of locations on a single, secure and unified system with wireless connections. The company began nine years ago as a maker of mobile WiFi hotspots but later evolved to serve the business-networking market.

The investor money will allow the company to invest in its rapidly growing cloud-based services platform, Mulhern said. The company plans to increase staffing at its five-employee office in London to tap Western European markets. Mulhern said the company plans to expand into the Middle East and South Africa before moving into Australia and parts of Asia and Latin America.

Successful expansions would lead to Cradlepoint offices around the world, but in the short term, Mulhern said international efforts will be headquartered in London.

Cradlepoint may use some of the $48 million to grow through acquisitions, Mulhern said. He hasn’t targeted companies to pursue, but companies owning software in Cradlepoint’s core markets, including retail, finance, insurance, transportation and health care, could make merger partners.

“Those are markets where we already have a pretty good presence with a lot of customers,” he said. “Once you have those relationships, it’s sometimes easier to sell them more than to go find new customers. But we want to do both.”

The company is nearing completion of consolidating its six locations around Boise into a new headquarters on the fourth floor of Boise Plaza at 1111 W. Jefferson St. Cradlepoint will expand to another floor when needed, Mulhern said. The company will also maintain its warehouse near the intersection of Five Mile Road and Emerald Street, where 20 employees work.

Cradlepoint got off the ground with funds from angel investors before raising more than $10 million in 2010, Mulhern said. Venture capital firms Delta-v Capital in Dallas and Boulder, Colo, and Caprock Group in Boise invested undisclosed sums alongside Sorenson’s investment.

Mulhern declined to disclose sales or profits. Cradlepoint added 100 employees in 2014 and expects to add another 100 this year. About 80 percent of its employees are based in the Treasure Valley, and the “lion’s share” of new hires will work here too, he said.

“We want to keep growing, keep being successful,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be a place where we can add a lot of technology jobs in the Valley and be around for a very long time.”