Wireless LAN vendor Colubris earlier this month named Robb Scott its new president and chief executive, at about the same time that Aruba Networks became the first of the remaining independent WLAN switch vendors to go public. Scott's background includes several technology companies that he's helped to grow or launch, often in highly competitive businesses. Most recently the 52-year-old was president and chief executive of Xelor Software, starting its US headquarters and launching its IP voice telephony and management software.
Previously, he held the same posts for IPeria, which offers voice messaging solutions. He co-founded Octave Communications, bought by Voyant Technologies in 2003. Before that, Scott held senior management positions at several companies, including at least two others, Onet and MultiLink, that were also acquired.
Colubris, like other smaller WLAN vendors, faces an array of challenges in a rapidly changing market where Cisco retains the lion's share. The privately held company says it's reaping record revenues, though hasn't claimed profitability yet. Investors poured another $14 million into the company coffers late in 2006.
We sent Scott five questions via e-mail:
1. Will your primary focus be on expanding Colubris' market share or on preparing the company for either an IPO or an acquisition?
The capital markets have recently become more receptive to IPOs by high-growth technology companies, as demonstrated by Aruba's successful IPO. This gives Colubris more financing options, although we are fortunate to be in a position where we are already very well financed to achieve our market growth and business objectives. We are very focused on executing our plan to substantially grow the business and expand our share in the enterprise WLAN market. This positions the company for the optimum outcome for our shareholders.
2. What's the biggest problem Colubris faces right now?
We don't have a "problem" per se, but our biggest "challenge" is maximising the tremendous opportunity we face. We're in a fast-growing market and we have more than 1,500 customers and partners that are very happy with Colubris and want to do more with us. We need to continue to focus on making our existing customers and partners successful, while demonstrating our unique value proposition to new prospects.
3. Where, and how, can Colubris expand, given its focus in hospitality and travel markets, and given Cisco's dominance everywhere else?
Actually, Colubris has already expanded well beyond the hospitality and travel markets. True, that's where the company's roots are, but we've got customers in education, manufacturing and healthcare, too. At the end of 2006, we announced new enterprise products and our move into new vertical markets, such as healthcare and manufacturing. We've won deals with Wayne Memorial Hospital, Coleman Powermate and George Mason University.
Yes, Cisco certainly has a large position in some market segments. However, there are lots of enterprises who want the innovation, interoperability and ease of use that a company like Colubris can deliver. This will be especially important as 802.11n emerges.
4. Will you introduce 802.11n products and if so, when?
Unlike most of our competitors, the Colubris architecture is 802.11n-ready, now. We combine distributed intelligence with centralised control and management to optimise WLAN performance. This means customers that deploy our architecture can simply install 802.11n access points when they become available and immediately benefit from the increased performance. The legacy switch architectures offered by other WLAN vendors simply can't scale to 802.11n performance levels. Customers will be forced into a fork-lift upgrade of their switches and controllers, plus re-engineering of their wired network backbone.
That said, yes, Colubris will also be introducing 802.11n products this year.
5. What Wi-Fi devices do you personally own?
I have a Colubris MultiService Access Point at home that provides Internet access for the family and access to the Colubris VPN.
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