INterview with Kim Niederman, CEO of FreeWave Technologies

By: InnovatioNews Friday July 18, 2014 0 comments

 


Kim Niederman was recently appointed CEO of FreeWave Technologies, a Boulder-based company focused on industrial machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless networking solutions.

Kim has more than 20 years of senior executive leadership experience with public and private companies, including Cisco Systems, Polycom, FORE Systems and most recently as president of 8X8 Inc., a leader in cloud/SaaS for VoIP, video, unified communications and contact centers.

His expertise is focused on helping accelerate proven, high-quality companies ready for a paradigm shift.

Q: You are a veteran of the high-tech and startup scenes, most recently serving as president of 8X8, a Silicon Valley company specializing in cloud/SaaS services. What would you say are the greatest strengths you are bringing to FreeWave?

A:  My greatest strength is scaling companies that are in the midst of paradigm shifts. There are two types of shifts - technology and go-to-market. True growth (and, money) is made during these shifts. An example of a technology shift is Cisco's transition from SNA to IP where new technology makes an impact on an industry. An example of a go-to-market shift is 8x8, where they had an established product but required a new go-to-market strategy and execution plan to start growing.

FreeWave is on the leading edge of the explosive, emerging M2M (Machine to Machine) market that's in the midst of both a technology and go-to-market shift.

FreeWave's products have been in the market for more than 20 years and have a proven track record of quality, security and reliability. As we continue to innovate and provide wireless products that will leapfrog our competitors, our go-to-market strategy will need to adopt to our next markets and geographies, which means developing an 'eco-system' of partners, alliances, channels etc. that can deliver end-to-end solutions for multiple different vertical markets.

Q: You said in the announcement of your appointment as FreeWave's new CEO that the M2M market is "massive." Where are the biggest opportunities in this market, in your view?

A:   The M2M industry has two sides ... the consumer-focused market, which FreeWave does not participate in and everything else - Oil & Gas, Utilities, Precision Agriculture, Healthcare, Municipalities, Irrigation, Government & Defense, etc.

FreeWave is recognized as a market leader in several verticals - Oil & Gas, Precision Agriculture and Environmental Monitoring.  And, each of these verticals represents billions in opportunity.

Every day, we are seeing applications that are controlled and automated without human interaction that deliver data that is analyzed intelligently without human interaction - that controls devices that operate machinery -- again, all without human interaction.

If we close our eyes, imagine a future where driverless cars transport people with minimal interaction. This is close to becoming a reality. Google just piloted a car that is controlled by GPS. However, the flaw is that GPS is only marginally accurate, whereby driverless cars would need precise accuracy.

The way to accomplish this is embedding sensors in the concrete to provide precise accuracy. In this scenario, there would need to be a massive wireless data transport network to send signals to the sensors in the concrete that would send signals to the sensors in automobiles providing precise command and control of a vehicle.

FreeWave is building the technology to provide the transport of 'massive' data wirelessly.

Q: Where do you see the drone industry going in the next few years, and how can FreeWave capture a significant part of that market?

A:  The unmanned systems market is opening up for commercial applications that will significantly expand this industry.

FreeWave already is heavily involved in the Defense industry involving drones. Our wireless solutions have already been deployed over several key unmanned platforms over last decade. In addition, we are actively involved with the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) in developing the standards for communications in this market.

Additionally, we have developed significant technology to effectively enable command-and-control of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) securely with encryption  protocols, such as FIPS140-2 .

Q: You specialize in accelerating the growth of companies involved in paradigm shifts and have an impressive track record, especially at 8X8, where you increased the company's market cap by five times in a little over two years. What do you expect for FreeWave over the next two years?

A:  This is hard to address given a market that's exploding and an ever-increasing amount of data that needs to be transported over a wireless M2M / IoT network. My objective is to leverage FreeWave's strong experience in the M2M market over the last 20 years and make it a dominant force in the industry.

Our results will depend upon many things, most importantly (1) our ability to execute our direction, vision and strategy; (2) the continued development of our people that can execute our strategy and vision; and (3) the development of a cohesive ecosystem of partners, alliances and vendors that work together to deliver compatible end-to-end solutions.

Q: You were a FreeWave board member for three months before you were tapped to be the company's CEO. Talk about your relationship with co-founder Steve Wulchin and how you expect to work together as a team.

A:  This is an easy question.  Steve is the founder and strategic driver of FreeWave from its inception. He's instilled the cultural values that made this company a success. He knows where the M2M market has been and has an excellent sense of where it's going. His vision is extremely important to FreeWave's multi-year roadmap and upcoming new products that will 'leapfrog' our competition.

My mission is to continue building upon what Steve built and take FreeWave to the next level. We complement each other and have different strengths ... sort of like 1 + 1 = 3. This is a winning combination.
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