Dave House, the man who coined the term "Intel Inside," is jumping back into the game after a 15-month car-racing-and-helicopter-skiing sabbatical. San Jose-based start-up Allegro Networks recently named House, 56, its chairman and chief executive as it brings to market its first product: a wholesale router to help backbone carriers add profitable services. House spent 22 years at Intel and later served as president of Nortel Networks. He talked to Senior Writer Bill Scanlon.
Why Allegro rather than, say, retirement?
There were two primary things. The team was excellent — great development guys, great methodology, great spirit — and the product was right in the critical area of the network, at the edge where we have to try to unplug the bottleneck.
Why is it so hard for many service providers and carriers to make money on todays Internet?
Theres an overinvestment in the marketplace — more animals in the jungle than there is food. The capital required for the carrier business is incredible. Long-distance is no longer a significant revenue source because its been commoditized by advances in the optical network. The focus is on new services. What were doing is providing those carriers a new level of services that augment their revenue models.
Will the Internet fulfill its promise this decade?
Some of it will never happen. Theres always more vision than reality. But we will be totally amazed five years from now about how the network has just integrated into our DNA — the way we do business, the way we learn things, the way people communicate with each other, entertain themselves. The Internet will be integrated into the structure of all that, and probably wont be noticed. Technology is best when its invisible. Like electricity — except in California.
What did you do during your 15 months off?
I climbed some mountains, took up car racing and helicopter skiing. I got married. I wasnt going to do anything in business, but friends came to me with ideas about starting businesses. Next thing I knew, I was coaching them, being a sounding board, sending them e-mails, investing. Allegro got me excited enough that I joined the board; then I just got so excited that I lost my mind and went back to work.