Minerva Networks

Based: Santa Clara, CA
Founded: 2002
www.minervanetworks.com

Why it's fierce: Minerva's middleware has been winning the company deals and partnership opportunities very quietly over the past year—it's inside nearly everyone's set-top boxes. The company makes middleware solutions, MPEG-4 encoders and DVB gateways, but it's the former that has made it a success so far. Eighty-five service providers use Minerva's iTVManager middleware solution at last count and the company added 29 new customers since the beginning of this year.

What to look for: Minerva's biggest partnership is its close ties to Nortel, a veritable juggernaut in the IPTV space. It's likely that Nortel will acquire Minerva in the year ahead, leading to a big pay out for the company's execs.

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