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Aruba Swaps Heads

It's changing of the guard time at enterprise wireless LAN startup, Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN). Chairman of the board Dominic Orr has become the firm's new president and CEO, while current chief executive, Don LeBeau, is moving into the chairman's role.

The company says that the turnabout will help it manage growth at the company, which is currently the largest startup in the enterprise wireless LAN market, according to sales figures from Dell'Oro Group and Synergy Research Group Inc. .

"My background and Don's are actually very compatible," Orr tells Unstrung. The plan, according to the new CEO, is to free up LeBeau up so that he can work more on sales, particularly to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) accounts, while Orr manages the operations side of the firm.

Aruba turned its first profit in the quarter ended January 31, a few quarters ahead of schedule, according to Orr, although this claim cannot be verified since Aruba has not released any actual revenue figures.

Executives at the startup have long talked of the prospect of an IPO, but are still leery of giving out too many details about when that might happen. "An IPO is something we continue to have in our sights," allows Keerti Melkote, VP of product management and marketing for Aruba.

Orr adds that additional venture funding could also be "an option" for the firm, depending on growth circumstances.

David Callisch, an Aruba alumni who has worked for both LeBeau and Orr and is now at Ruckus Wireless Inc. says that the CEO move makes sense if the company is looking to go in that direction. "I think they release what they need to execute their asses off," he tells Unstrung.

"I love both of these guys but if you held a gun to my head I'd have to say that Dominic is an operational nazi, whereas Don is more of a big picture strategic guy."

Orr, former CEO of Alteon WebSystems, has been Aruba's chairman of the board since the startup's launch in 2003. LeBeau, a former Cisco executive known for his love of high-end stereo gear, came onboard as CEO in January 2004 (See LeBeau Dons Aruba Crown and Something for the Weekend, Sir?.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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bradleymon 12/5/2012 | 3:57:59 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads Dominic has a great track record with Wall Street, having run Alteon to a $7.8 billion acquisition by Nortel. Additionally, he's a great hands-on CEO, and really encourages ownership and innovation from all functions within a company.

It should be really interesting to see whether they take the IPO route within the year.
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:57:58 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads read between the lines...
meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:57:57 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads He got shot....
belikejones 12/5/2012 | 3:57:57 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads While the company may have been doing well in sales (they recently turned profitable?), the general message seems to be that to go public they also needed to focus more on the "day to day" or the operational aspects of the business. Dominic brings the Sales expertise, attention to details in operations, and a huge rolodex. This seems like a smart move for Aruba. They get to eat their cake, and have it too.

- blj
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:57:56 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads post from bradleymon, and to some extent this one, sound like they were written by a PR firm or maybe Callisch. as if anyone real cares what he has to say or was the point to place the Ruckus name in print to try and help save that stink bomb?
free_radio 12/5/2012 | 3:57:56 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads My personal hint is telling me that maybe Aruba Networks will merge (or at least exploring the opportunity) with the Ruckus Wireless since both of the CEO head honchos are Dominic Orr and Selina Lo. Both of them are coming from the HP and Alteon alumni.

Aruba is concentrating on the (large) enterprise customers while Ruckus is on the home/SME customers so there is no redundancy here. Hmm ... it's a marriage bound to happen ...

Stay tune, guys for more update ....
whatupwireless 12/5/2012 | 3:57:55 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads between the lines...our revenue growth is waning and we need to clean up out act and start executing. Why would you change CEOs to focus the company? Why wouldn't Orr be the COO? C'mon...too bloated to sell out so they have to make IPO sound like a possibility.

The speculation that Ruckus and Aruba merge is more feasible than an IPO...
fecklish 12/5/2012 | 3:57:44 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads I'm not as full of crap as you think. Although I get backed up quite a bit.

-Callisch
alexandwireless 12/5/2012 | 3:57:32 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads Aruba has done a great job so far. From reading the press releases you almost want to believe that Dominic has been sitting on the sidelines cheering Don LeBeau on all this time. Just to get them profitable and then Don graciously steps aside to let Dominic take all the credit for a networking IPO, which btw is the only thing Don LeBeau doesn't have on his resume.

So the skeptical (or sane) folks may think

- Maybe Aruba's sales had a soft patch?
- Maybe the board wants some results for the $87 million in?
- Maybe the employees must be getting a bit tired after 4 years of "wireless fatigue."
- Maybe Dominic isn't chartered (or up for) a 4 year IPO run and maybe has orders to drive for a liquidation event?

I recall all the Don LeBeau hoopla PR and that was all about "Don will take us to the IPO land."

I guess I just don't buy it. I think Aruba has done well, but this one is a little too hard to swallow. Don LeBeau got fired - employees seem happy about it. We will never know the real reasons, but I think Dominic will show us the end of the story in the next 4-8 months.
meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:57:30 AM
re: Aruba Swaps Heads If you look at their product mix these days you really don't see anything new coming out of this company. They are finally coming to grips with location tracking, VoWlan, and mesh. This is just way to late. I view them as laggards on the technology front these days. Even if they try to stick it out then Cisco will slowly suck the life out them. The old Airespace folks have now been given some big guns and are ordered to stop this company from going public. Nah, check...a few more moves before checkmate.

Remember Proxim? Drove by their empty building in Sunnyvale the other day.



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