Where it's based: Headquarters are in Chicago, Ill.; R&D is in Sydney, Australia
When it was founded: 2006
Why it's Fierce: As a spinoff of Australia's prestigious National Center of Excellence for Information and Communication Technology, Open Kernel Labs boasts a strong pedigree in research and development. In fact, the company's mobile virtualization platform builds on more than 10 years of R&D in microkernel-based system software at the University of New South Wales.
Although it was just founded four years ago, the company's mobile virtualization software is already available in more than 500 million mobile devices. Virtualization software is a programming technique that lets one hardware platform run multiple operating systems simultaneously, which is becoming increasingly important in smartphones and embedded devices.
President and CEO Steve Subar says mobile virtualization lets handset makers reduce the cost of making a smartphone without degrading the quality, thus bringing a smartphone bill of materials as low as $100.
Subar credits some of the company's success to its work with chip vendor ST-Ericsson, which selected OK Labs as its virtualization partner--giving OK Labs access to a large part of the mobile handset market. OK Labs also supports reference designs from Qualcomm.
Another key to OK Labs' success is the company's close relationship Citrix Systems, which is a strategic investor and partner.
What's next: Open Kernel is working with its partner Citrix to merge mobile virtualization with enterprise virtualization, thereby allowing enterprises to better take advantage of the capabilities of smartphones.