Tropos Networks – Profile
HQ: Sunnyvale, CA
Founded: 2003 (previously called FHP Wireless)
Management: Ron Sege is President and Chief Executive Officer. Was CEO of another start-up, Ellacoya Networks, and did time at Terra Lycos and 3Com. David Hanna is Chairman and original CEO – he began his career at IBM and went on to become CEO of 9 high-technology companies. Former FCC Chairman and uber-Board member Reed Hundt is also involved.
Investors: Feb. ’03 announced Series C financing of $8.3 million, bringing the total amount of financing raised to $13.5 million. Investors include Voyager Capital, Benchmark Capital, Boston Millennia Partners, Duff Ackerman & Goodrich, Integral Capital Partners, WK Technology Fund and Hanna Ventures. Intel Capital made an additional undisclosed investment in June 2003.
Business Model: Developing equipment for metro-scale Wi-Fi networks. These networks enable broadband applications in mobile public safety environments, such as mobile database access, video surveillance, and GIS inquiries.
Competitors: Clearwire, existing communications hardware makers.
Dirt: Are metro-scale Wi-Fi companies the new CLECs? If they are, that spells trouble. CLECs were the communications companies of the late ’90s (think Level 3, NorthPoint, Teligent, Global Crossing) that were going to offer all sorts of high-speed voice/data services – and mostly ended up offering lots of Chapter 11 filings to the courts. At least Tropos appears to be focused less on consumer penetration and more on public safety agencies and infrastructure. But there are some regulatory hurdles, as well. As Tropos CEO Ron Sege points out in a News.com op-ed, a recent court ruling in Pennsylvania is making it difficult for metro-scale Wi-Fi companies to peddle their wares: “If a Pennsylvania city or town government wants to initiate broadband, it will now need to ask and then wait for the local telephone company to decide if it wants to provide the service.” Time for Reed Hundt to break out the Rolodex and work his Capitol Hill contacts.