Rebel.com, an Ottawa-based networking and hardware company partly owned by Corel Corp., appears to be the latest victim of the tech industry malaise, according to a report published in The Globe & Mail over the weekend.
The fate of Rebel.com, a supplier of Linux-based thin client product NetWinder – the industry’s first server to ship with Transmeta Corp.’s Crusoe processor – appears to have been sealed swiftly after a recent court order authorized KPMG LLP to act as receiver and secure the firm’s remaining assets, the paper reported.
Calls to the Ottawa company went unreturned. Currently, Rebel.com’s Web site carries a banner telling visitors the site is “unavailable at this time, although company and product information still appears at www.netwinder.net.
KPMG confirmed Monday that its officials were on-site at Rebel.com.
Founded in 1987 as Hardware Canada Computing Inc., the company later adopted its current name (and an expensively licensed “James Dean” logo) and moved its focus from reselling hardware, to offering networking solutions based on technology it purchased from Corel, which owns 25 per cent of Rebel.com.
Alcatel Canada Inc., an Ottawa-based supplier of carrier and networking solutions which in Aug. 2000 awarded an $8.2 million, two-year Unix support contract to Rebel.com, had little to say Monday about its sub-contractor’s apparent demise.
“Our service agreement has not been affected and we are continuing to monitor the situation closely,” said Nancy Bast of Alcatel’s public relations department, adding, “KPMG is managing the situation well.”
Rebel.com’s problems are likely related more to a lack of resources needed to tackle a very competitive marketplace, than to any fault with their technology, said Evan Leibovitch, vice-president of business development for Toronto’s Starnix, and co-founder of the Canadian Linux User’s Exchange.
Leibovitch said that as the Internet gateway market increases and becomes more of a commodity, companies must either increase their resources or get left behind. He cited Cobalt (recently bought by Sun Microsystems Inc.), and e-smith, an open source network software provider acquired by Mitel Networks Corp. last week as examples of similar Linux-oriented vendors that were able to successfully forge alliances, and gain access to the dollars that eluded Rebel.
“I would treat [Rebel.com’s failure] as an isolated thing, as opposed to any kind of a trend because there are so many counter-examples,” said Leibovitch. “There are a number of other open-source companies doing well.”