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Wind River exec leaves for WiFi/Linux startup

Oct 28, 2004 — by Henry Kingman — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

A 13-year Wind River executive has left the company to head up a startup focused on WiFi. Dave Fraser is now CEO of Instant802, a venture-funded company that sells Linux-oriented software stacks for wireless access points, central management servers, and network clients such as printers and projectors.

Fraser's new company sells both Linux and VxWorks WiFi stacks and associated software, but according to Fraser, interest in Linux runs much higher. During a brief conversation with, Fraser said, “Linux is just a superior platform. The default is Linux. It's what the semiconductor vendors are shipping with their reference designs. It's just assumed to be that. We definitely have companies that are shipping vxworks, but . . . the world has moved on. The new baseline platform to add value to is really Linux.”

Instant802 was funded by VC giant Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, and has spent about $10 million dollars building a portfolio of mostly Linux-oriented IP (intellectual property). The 40-employee company primarily markets software “platforms” for access points, network clients, and central management servers. Its Linux-based access point platforms support hardware reference designs from all major access equipment providers, Fraser says, while its WiFi client stack recently won placement in a digital camera. And, its server software helps manage wireless access on Japanese commuter rail networks, according to Fraser.

“We simply work as partners with chipset companies, some of whom distribute evaluation versions,” Fraser explains. “We go to joint customers and sell them a standard product platform — similar to MontaVista or Wind River — except that we work on the wireless subsystems.”

Instant802's wireless access point platform is based on OpenAP (which the company maintains), along with proprietary IP around security, configuration management, and more. Much of its software is implemented in Java. “All of the protocols are either standards-based or the APIs are open,” Fraser adds.

Instant802's IP portfolio includes security and management

Fraser says he is in the process of re-creating his new company's branding and positioning, changes that could even involve a name change. He expects to ramp the business side of Instant802 from initial customer engagements to higher-volume opportunities.

“We're at an inflection point where it has now become cheaper to install a wireless network. It's clear that wireless is enabling all manner of new applications and becoming pervasive. Instant802 people are experts in this field,” Fraser said.

Prior to joining Instant802 Networks, Fraser served Wind River for 13 years in roles that included vice president of engineering, chief marketing officer, and senior vice president and general manager of products. He was a key advocate for Linux at Wind River, and spoke with many times about the company's Linux-related announcements. Fraser has also held marketing and engineering positions at Unisys/Convergent, Hewlett-Packard, and Racal Electronics. He holds a BSc (Honours) in Computing Science from Glasgow University, Scotland.

Instant802 changed its name to Devicescape in February, 2005

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