ConSentry: more VC dollars for the NAC bonfire

Contact: Brenon Daly, Paul Roberts

It’s difficult – if not impossible – to point to any area of technology this year with a more consistently god-awful ROI than network access control (NAC). At this point, the return for VCs on their bets in the NAC market is literally pennies on the dollar. The latest addition to the imbalance between money invested and money returned: ConSentry Networks. As my colleague Paul Roberts recently noted, the company died earlier this month at least in part because it was counting on users defecting from either Cisco or Juniper Networks.

But that flawed business plan didn’t stop ConSentry from pulling down some $81m in backing over the past six years. The venture dollars incinerated by ConSentry brings the total amount burned by NAC vendors that have gone out of business in 2009 to at least $212m. Add to that the money raised by the one exit the NAC space has seen this year (Mirage Networks’ scrap sale to Trustwave), and the total swells to $252m. And the grand return on that quarter-billion-dollar cumulative investment? Mirage probably got about $10m for its business.