Ex-Palm CEO Hired at GeoPhoenix

Carl Yankowski, who resigned as Palm Inc. CEO last November, has a new gig.

Carl Yankowski, who resigned as Palm Inc. CEO last November, has a new gig. Yankowski is now executive chairman of GeoPhoenix, a Cambridge, Mass., startup that specializes in user interface technologies for handhelds and other devices. The company was founded by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates.

The companys premier product, the Zoom Enablement Kit, translates sets of data into interfaces that work consistently on various devices. Targeted at hardware manufacturers, content providers and enterprise application developers, the product is slated to ship within six months.

"We are providing a broadband experience over a low-bandwidth connection," said GeoPhoenix CEO Adriana Guzman.

According to the companys Web site, "GeoPhoenix provides the only method for handheld users to swiftly access large data sets with an intuitive visual metaphor."

Yankowski resigned from Palm following a year of decisions that prompted one of his colleagues to remark, "Its the worst case of mismanagement Ive ever seen."

Yankowski was criticized along with other Palm executives for never building a clear strategy to woo enterprise customers. Customers complained of several projects that never saw the light of day, including a corporate portal for the Palm platform.

More directly, Yankowski was blamed for announcing new products too soon.

In an effort to compete against Handspring Inc.s Visor Edge, Palm pre-announced the m500 and m505 handhelds, which dried up sales of existing products.

Still, analysts say Yankowski could be a positive force at a startup such as GeoPhoenix.

"He has a lot of contacts and can open doors," said Don Longueil, an analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group, in Newton, Mass. "That is what he is there for."

Guzman echoed the sentiment.

"We hired him because he has a lot of experience in the [personal digital assistant] technology," she said. "We all learn from experience, good or bad. And he did take Palm through one of the most successful [initial public offerings] in history.

"He has a huge Rolodex," she added. "He can call any CEO in the world."