Former Verizon exec Shawn Hakl touts internet overlay company Syntropy

Syntropy, a Silicon Valley startup that is building a programmable overlay on top of the public internet, has gotten a couple of familiar names in the telco world to join its advisory board.

Shawn Hakl, former SVP at Verizon, and Roman Pacewicz, former chief product officer at AT&T, have joined Syntropy’s advisory board. Hakl is currently a partner at Microsoft, overseeing the development of Microsoft's Azure for Operators strategy.

Hakl explained Syntropy as “an abstraction layer” that brings together “a collision” of technologies such as SD-WAN routing, VPN security and Blockchain distributed ledger. “It bundles a whole bunch of separate elements today and makes them usable to a much broader scope of applications,” said Hakl. “It’s a lot of cool stuff into a usable package.” 

Shawn Hakl
Shawn Hakl

One of the co-founders of Syntropy is Bill Norton, who was also a co-founder of Equinix. He explained that Syntropy’s overlay software can be downloaded by parties who want to connect securely on the internet. “It’s a very thin veneer that provides two services: encryption for every packet you send; and second it provides an optimized interconnection,” said Norton. 

He said the overlay doesn’t exist unless parties deploy the agent. “This is a way of pulling together any arbitrary connection of internet devices into an encrypted mesh network,” said Norton. “We’re treating the internet as a global transport network with the ability to connect into anyone else on that system. We believe we’re making this a customer-centric internet connection.”

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Norton said that Syntropy’s software is finding speed savings in trials. For example, he said a test that involved traffic that was traveling between Microsoft Azure and AWS “lit up hundreds of optimizations that could be made.”

Hakl said he’s excited about the Syntropy software because it will help app developers whom he said currently need to know “way too much about the network to be successful.” The Syntropy overlay is much more cost-effective than an SD-WAN or a VPN, and it doesn’t require agreements with telcos or other connectivity providers.

“This works over the public internet,” reiterated Norton. “The internet is the world’s best transport network.”

Syntropy is also using blockchain distributed ledger technology to keep track of all the business relationships on its network.

The four-year-old startup has been privately backed by angel investments from Fortune 500 companies, financial innovators and early stage blockchain investors. It has already formalized a relationship with Cisco and is working on pilot projects with others, as well.

Syntropy has about 30 employees, and there’s a community of about 14,000 people who contribute code to it.

The company is happy to have Hakl and Pacewicz on its advisory board because it says their experience at Microsoft, AT&T and Verizon will help drive strategy and build relationships.