Vivato lays off workers, after funding win

Vivato Inc., one of a pack of start-ups that are pioneering the idea of wireless LAN “switches,” has reportedly laid off 10 per cent of its workforce.

According to a recent report on the Unstrung Web site, up to 14 employees are being cut, leaving about 90 at the San Francisco company, which just completed a US$44.5 million round of funding, its third, in June.

A few personnel changes are being made. Co-founder Skip Crilly will give up the post as CTO to become chief scientist. Marcus da Silva, who had been the vice-president of engineering, replaces Crilly. Dave Roth has been named vice-president of hardware engineering, and Jim Thompson as vice-president for software development.

The most recent funding round brings to the total venture funding to about US$73 million, including an undisclosed amount from Intel Capital, which invested March 2003. Other investors include Advanced Technology Ventures, the lead investors in the third round, and earlier backers including Leapfrog Ventures, U.S. Venture Parnters and Walden International.

According to Unstrung’s report, the newest investors played a role in the shakeup, which is intended to shift the company from its emphasis on product development to sales and marketing.

Vivato unveiled its WLAN “switch” last fall. The company packages the switch electronics and 802.11b radio with a three-foot wide phased-array antenna panel. The panel creates three WLAN beams that shift to client devices over a wide area. The design, company executives say, boosts the range and capacity of the WLAN, compared to rivals that use a centralized switch box and distributed wireless access points.