Terabeam Hopes to Bounce Ricochet

Terabeam Inc. (Nadsaq: TRBM) on Tuesday announced the appointment of a new president and chief operating officer, Pankaj Manglik. He also will serve as the president of Terabeam's wholly owned subsidiary, Proxim Wireless Corp. , as it turns its focus to the wireless service provider market.

Manglik is the founder and former CEO of Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN), which, like Proxim, makes wireless networking hardware. He left Aruba in 2004, initially planning to start his own venture. (See Aruba Founder Switches Off.) He ended up in various consulting gigs instead, though, until he ended up at Proxim.

Prior to Aruba, Manglik held senior management positions with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Nortel Networks Ltd. , and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC).

"We wanted an entrepreneurial spirit," says Robert Fitzgerald, CEO of Terabeam. "We're in it to grow this thing."

The job won't be a cakewalk. Terabeam had a tough first quarter, with a net loss of $4.5 million. Revenue was $18.5 million, a decrease of approximately 32% from the previous quarter.

And Terabeam comprises the assets of two troubled companies -- Proxim and Ricochet Networks Inc. , which runs a proprietary cellular data network, and which has bounced off four owners since 2001.

"Proxim's a mess," says Ken Dulaney, vice president of mobile computing at Gartner Inc. , in an email message to Light Reading. "Ricochet is dead, dead, dead."

Proxim sold its assets to Terabeam last July as part of Proxim's Chapter 11 filing. (See Terabeam Grabs Proxim's Assets.) Since then, while Proxim's heritage lies in corporate wireless LAN equipment, the company seems to be turning its focus toward service providers, with mesh networking and WiMax hardware.

"Proxim started out in the enterprise WiFi space, but I think where the opportunity has moved is into the mesh space and in the WiMax space," Manglik says. "Basically our entire focus and R&D is going to be around mesh and WiMax." [Ed. note: So pack up and go to Aruba if you need a WiFi switch.]

Terabeam acquired Ricochet in June 2004. But last month the company hired Franklin Court Partners "to explore a variety of possible strategic alternatives for its Ricochet business." The voicemail message at Terabeam's main number thanks you for calling Proxim, and mentions nothing of Ricochet.

"We've tried different things; some have worked good, some have worked OK, and some haven't worked at all," Fitzgerald says. "Ricochet's at a plus or minus $3 or $4 million run rate. It just doesn't make sense for us to run a wireless ISP, so we're looking to do something with it. We're not proficient at adding end user subscribers to a wireless ISP network. We're looking to bring in a partner or buyer."

— Carmen Nobel, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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