Vivato: Shaken & Stirred Up

Startup cuts staff, shakes up management, as it promises to 'behave responsibly' with VC money

August 12, 2003

2 Min Read
Vivato: Shaken & Stirred Up

Wireless LAN switch startup Vivato Inc. has laid off around 10 percent of its workforce and tweaked its management team in a bid to "rebalance the company" as it works on developing faster versions of its 802.11 product.

Vivato has laid off between 10 and 14 employees across all departments, Phil Belanger, the company's VP of marketing told Unstrung. Around 90 people remain, he says.

Vivato co-founder Skip Crilly has stepped down as CTO to become the firm's chief scientist. The CTO position is being filled by Marcus da Silva, formerly the firm's VP of engineering. Dave Roth [ed. note: no relation to the lead singer of Van Halen] is the new VP of hardware engineering; and Jim Thompson [ed. note: no relation to the crime author] is VP for software development.

Belanger says that the company had to make the changes in order to focus on new product development and to be "more fiscally responsible." The "rebalancing of the company" will involve adding more sales and marketing types, Belanger explained. Some of the engineers that had worked on the original switch product "have been left behind."

"One of the things we did when we started the company is grow out a huge engineering team... We were thin on sales and marketing," he says. "We're still thin on sales and marketing."

Vivato has just scored $44.5 million in its third round of funding (see Vivato Raises $44.5M). Belanger says the firm's investors helped to prompt the changes at the company. "We had to show our investors that we were going to behave responsibly with this new round."

Vivato was the first startup to announce that it was producing a wireless LAN switch back in November 2002 (see Vivato Plans Ambitious WLAN). The company has taken a different approach from most of its rivals in this new market. It employs a single box equipped with a "smart antenna" to boost the range and capacity of the 802.11b standard (11-Mbit/s over 2.4Ghz) so that it can cover large areas indoors or out, rather than the distributed switch and multiple access point systems pushed by others in this market (see Vivato's Switch Bitch for more on this).

Belanger says Vivato's new products will still use "smart antenna" technology but are being built around a new chipset and will support the faster 802.11g standard (54-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) and eventually 802.11a (54-Mbit/s over 5Ghz) (see Vivato's Silicon Sugar Daddy). The company intends to reveal more details about its new product line in the fall.

However, Belanger refuted suggestions that Vivato has ditched its initial b products. "Absolutely not, we're just finally... ramping up production right now." The company, he asserts, has cleared its backlog of orders for indoor units, but still has a two-month backlog on units intended for outdoor wireless access.

The firm will introduce a two-port access point, designed to connect to its existing switch, in September.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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