We won’t keep you in suspense: The winners of the Clouded Leopards Den 2015 prize for cloud innovation are TapLink and Viptela. Learning the identity of the winners, however, is only part of the story.

The Clouded Leopards Den prize has progressed from nominations early this year (about 25 entries), through a shortlisting process led by media/analyst judges (two groups of six), to finalists chosen by a panel of industry/venture capital investors (two groups of three), then in-person elevator pitches, and then the awards themselves.

Both categories in the Clouded Leopards Den — one for early-stage startups, one for later-stage, pre-IPO companies – had three finalists. The three finalists for the early-stage awards are Innovate Create Limited, TapLink  and Truedash Ltd. The later-stage finalists are CENX Inc., Mirantis and Viptela.

A requirement for winning the Clouded Leopards Den 2015 was participation in the NetEvents Cloud Innovation Summit, held Apr. 23-24 in beautiful Tiburon, Calif., a small community just north of San Francisco. Finalists would have the opportunity to present two-minute elevator pitches, and then be grilled by the judging panel. Sadly, only five of the finalists were able to make it to Tiburon, and this reduced the field slightly.

The finalists excelled during their Shark Tank/Leopard’s Den-style elevator pitches and Q&A sessions by the investor panel, led by “Top Cat” Dr. Bob Metcalfe, Ethernet inventor and Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise at The University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering. The other judges were Jim Lussier, Managing Director and Head of Dell Ventures; Janice Roberts, Partner in Benhamou Global Ventures; Dan Scheinman, an angel investor in high-growth emerging tech companies; and Murli Thirumale, Co-Founder and CTO of Portworx Inc.

After the live interviews, the judging panel deliberated and chose TapLink as the early-stage winner, and Viptela as the later-stage winner. Congratulations to both companies – and to the finalists, the shortlist and all nominees for the Clouded Leopards Den 2015.

The Clouded Leopards Den 2015 prize was sponsored by OpenCloud Connect (OCC), a global industry alliance founded in May 2013 to address the need for scaling and enhancing Ethernet technology to meet the stringent demands of delivering cloud services.

The OCC is creating an open test and standards development program for service providers, industry vendors and cloud companies and includes a dedicated proof of concept test laboratory based in Silicon Valley, to provide ongoing testing and support for the iterative development of OCC’s CloudE 1.0 open cloud framework.

Let’s talk prizes: Each winning company received a trophy featuring the rare and beautiful Clouded Leopard, a big cat that lives in the Himalayas. In addition,

  • All finalists received immediate exposure to global press at the NetEvents Global Cloud Innovation Summit.
  • Winners will not have to spend excess amounts of money, it guarantees them free publicity
  • Winners will be mentored by a top VC or entrepreneur
  • Winners will gain global recognition from all the publicity received
  • Winners will receive OCC membership for a year along with mentoring and privileged access to the OCC’s technical initiatives and developments such as the CloudE 1.0 reference architecture and OpenCloud Project lab facilities.
  • Winners will have the opportunity to network with the OCC at quarterly meetings
  • Winners will be able to provide input into technical committee meetings

Again, we congratulate the winners and participants in the Clouded Leopards Den 2015 prize, and offer our thanks to the investor panel and media/analyst judges for their hard work. News about the Clouded Leopards Den 2016 will be provided later this year!