Last Call for Vivato?

Everyone is talking about rumors of the imminent demise of Vivato Inc., one of the startups that originally kick-started the wireless LAN switch movement.

Multiple sources [ed. note: It's even on the message-board!] have told Unstrung that the company is expected to close down by the end of the year, with December 20 looking like the most likely date.

We spoke to Vivato last week when these rumors first got too loud to ignore, and a spokesman denied them then. No one has yet replied to calls today.

The firm is said to be looking for a buyer, but it is not clear what prospects are out there.

Of course, Vivato has been pronounced dead in the water before and come back. But the wireless whisperers we've spoken to insist that the investor community is now saying that Vivato will close its doors soon.

Vivato's closure could be seen as something of an end of an era for the WLAN market. The firm was one of the first to promote the idea of a centrally-managed "wireless LAN switch" network for enterprise users. (See Vivato Plans Ambitious WLAN.)

But unlike successful startups, such as Airespace and Aruba Wireless Networks that followed in its wake, Vivato proposed to "light up" offices with one powerful box that used "beam-steering" technology to provide radio coverage over hundreds of square feet. (See WLAN Switches: The Brains Behind 802.11?.) The other players in this space preferred to use a central switch to manage a network of "dumb" access points. (See Vivato's Switch Bitch and Switch Tiff Heats Up .)

But in practice, providing coverage in an office-space filled with cubes and other radio-dampening obstacles proved to be a tricky task for the Vivato. So the firm repositioned itself as a company that could provide coverage for stadiums, conference centers, and outdoor areas. (See Vivato's New Broom and Vivato Goes Wide.)

But despite winning some contracts, the company has remained troubled. In April, the firm hired a new "crisis CEO" to restructure the company. (See Vivato Hires Crisis CEO.)

Since its foundation in December 2000, Vivato has scored around $67 million in funding from investors like Intel Capital and U.S. Venture Partners.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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