Radguard tries for comeback

VPN hardware maker Radguard Ltd. is wrestling with Hamlet’s question: To be or not to be?

The Israeli company closed up shop last month, only to show signs of life this week as its founders seek a way to refinance and hire back some of its 140 employees.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, the company wants to regroup with US$5 million in new financing and lure back 30 to 50 of its workers with increased stock options and other incentives.

The company has until Sunday to settle with its employees and have an Israeli regulatory agency dismiss the receiver appointed to oversee dismantling the company, the paper reports.

Radguard was one of 15 companies overseen by the RAD Group, a communications technology incubator run by two brothers, Yehuda and Zohar Zisapel. Yehuda Zisapel has stepped in as CEO of Radguard during its attempt to regroup, replacing Eli Herscovitz.

Radguard made the cIPro line of VPN equipment, which ranged from hardware for IDSN-supported branch offices and corporate headquarters fed by large dedicated links, as well as a certificate authority and a PC client for remote access VPN use. The gear twice ranked well among VPN equipment tested by Network World, winning a blue ribbon in 1999.

In December the company announced it was making its software compatible with Microsoft Corp.’s VPN software, and would consider compatibility with other vendors’ equipment under a plan called Radguard Open Architecture. Earlier this year, RADGuard made its client compatible with Zone Labs Inc.’s firewall and security software.

Radguard shipped its first products in 1996, and claims on its Web site that its revenue doubled every year until 2000, and it projected similar growth over the next few years.

Sources close to former U.S. employees of Radguard say the workers are being offered reduced salaries, but large stock options.

Radguard abruptly shut down March 20 after a round of what had been seen as successful visits to potential financial backers, according to U.S. sources familiar with the company. Just two weeks before, the company announced $6 million in new financing.

On March 15, the company made a pitch to Israel Export Institute’s Investors Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

Radguard can be reached at http://www.radguard.com.