When Jeff Benck took over as CEO of Lantronix in December, he found a company that was not seeing the immense opportunity in front of it.
The company makes specialized networking products for connecting things to the Internet and to each other, an enviable position given the sharp growth in the number of devices that make up the expanding Internet of things (IoT) and the increasing demand for machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity. However, despite that position, Lantronix seemed like a company stuck in neutral, according to Benck.
“The company has been flat to slightly down [financially] in recent quarters because it enjoys a pretty significant legacy business that’s been in decline,” the CEO told eWEEK. “They saw the Internet of things as an interesting opportunity, but they also had a lot of feet in other camps.”
The quarterly financial results announced Feb. 16 were an example of what Benck saw: the company’s revenues during the three-month period hit $9.5 million, down from $10.7 million the same period a year before, and it lost $928,000, compared with $632,000 a year earlier.
When he came aboard, Benck said he saw a company with a lot of assets—including skilled employees, solid products and a customer base that included a number of large businesses, including Intel, T-Mobile and Verizon. What Lantronix needed to do was change its focus, putting its efforts behind the IoT and de-emphasizing legacy businesses that held little promise for significant growth.
The new CEO has moved quickly to put his ideas into motion. After spending several weeks talking with employees, customers and partners, Benck in relative short order made several moves, including hiring Sanjeev Datla—who has extensive experience in connectivity technologies and the IoT—as Lantronix’s CTO. In addition, the company last week at the Embedded World 2016 show unveiled PremierWave 2050, an embedded IoT module designed specifically for applications that need enterprise-class security and dual-band Ethernet-to-WiFi networking capabilities.
Benck also has said the company will reduce investments in legacy products like the xPrintServer product line while maintaining efforts around others, such as the SLC 8000 console manager, and increasing investments in IoT solutions. Lantronix also will shift more of its energy away from hardware and into software, he told eWEEK.
Benck laid out his objectives Feb. 16 when Lantronix announced the company’s most recent quarterly financial numbers, saying that in the IoT, he wanted the company to create “a differentiated play in the marketplace.”
“Unlike many players in the IOT space, Lantronix has more than 20 years of deep M2M experience and installed base of millions of connected devices worldwide,” he said on a conference call, according to a transcript on Seeking Alpha. “We are a trusted brand in delivering secure, reliable connectivity for thousands of customers ranging from emerging companies to Fortune 500 organizations. This provides us with a unique industry insight what’s really needed for these enterprise customers as they look to deploy IoT solutions.”
The CEO didn’t go into much detail, though he said that “these new products will be enterprise-focused and deliver secure easy-to-deploy and manage industrial hardened capabilities that will help customers extract more value from an IoT deployment.”
New Lantronix CEO Has His Eyes on the IoT
A goal is to help businesses make the massive amounts of data being generated by the billions of connected devices and systems more easily accessible to databases and analytics software that enable the customers to more quickly derive useful information from the data, he told eWEEK. The PremierWave 2050 fits into that effort.
The product is designed for such verticals as industrial automation, health care, retail, railways and logistics, and enables OEMs to easily embed WiFi connectivity into ruggedized Ethernet-enabled enterprise and consumer applications.
Benck came to Lantronix after almost two years as president and CEO of Emulex, before that company was bought by Avago Technologies. Prior to that he was president and COO ofQLogic and had spent 18 years with IBM. To him, the IoT is a natural play for Lantronix. The company has a strong history in M2M connectivity and a large customer base.
It’s also a fast-growing market. IDC analysts are forecasting that spending on the IoT will jump from $698.6 billion in 2015 to almost $1.3 trillion in 2019, and while predictions in the industry vary, most expect the number of connected devices, systems and sensors to grow rapidly over the next few years. Both Cisco Systems and Intel are predicting that the number of connected devices will hit 50 billion in 2020, up from 25 billion in 2014.
Benck said that right now, what he and his executives have to do is not only get Lantronix turned in the right direction and focusing even more on the IoT, but also to be clear with customers and partners what the plans are for the future.
“They want a roadmap,” he said. “They want to understand where we see opportunity, and where we’re going to focus our resources.”