Cisco Exec to Lead Firetide

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on May 27, 2013

Firetide had been the most visible and vocal proponent of wireless mesh surveillance but, in the past few years, the company has gone relatively quiet. Now, the company has announced a new CEO, tapping Cisco veteran John McCool who spent 17 years with Cisco, most recently serving as CTO and senior VP of the Global Enterprise Segment, before leaving the company last month.

For this note, we talked to McCool about Firetide’s position and its plans going forward, concluding with an analysis of their positioning.

Key Points from the Interview

Here are the most notable statements Firetide's CEO made:

  • Mobility infrastructure - trains, buses, etc. - is an emerging market.
  • Leverage growth in back hauling video to the cloud across mobile infrastructure.
  • Interest in the industrial sector, specifically energy, where equipment needs to be moved.
  • No plans for raising new funding (last funding was $8.5 million in 2009)
  • Says they are generating cash.

What direction are you taking the company? How does it relate to surveillance? 

Mesh technology has this interesting combination of high-bandwidth and the ability to deliver a continuous stream of high-definition video from a moving video source. The initial deployment of video surveillance were static, but we’re seeing an emerging area of what we call mobility infrastructure -- moving trains, moving buses, for example. They want the same surveillance capability, but have the technical challenge of moving at 60mph. This is an opportunity for Firetide to expand its business and make this more valuable to infrastructure and municipalities.

What do you think about Firetide's past position? What kinds of things are you going to do to help accelerate growth?

Firetide started at a time when there wasn’t a lot of mobile devices. State of the art was WiFi on a notebook. It was a very different time, and there wasn’t broad use of digital video. The ecosystem that really drives growth really didn’t exist in the marketplace until 2008-2009. [Also] Things are moving toward cloud-based infrastructure that can store a great deal of video, the market is moving pretty quickly. I’m looking to make sure the company is in a strong position to leverage the transition to HD video streams on mobile infrastructure that must be back-hauled to cloud-based storage and processing systems. [McCool also say the company is expects to see growth in its Asian markets.]

Firetide says it currently has 10,000 customers in 40 countriesIn which sectors are you seeing new interest in your technology?

We are seeing emerging interest in the industrial sector, specifically around the energy area. Outside of public safety, industrial users aren’t just interested in good connectivity to sensors, but worker safety and worker communication as well. They’re also putting more equipment in remote sites because they have to process data remotely. These companies are seeing the limitations of satellite upload or 4G technology and looking for a new way to connect. Also, they move this equipment around and not having to manually reconfigure a wired network by having a mesh network that can automatically reconnect will help them tremendously.

What is the current state of funding? Are you capital positive and are you interested in expanding into other markets?

The company completed a Series E a while back and continues to grow the company based on that. We are generating cash and balancing that against our expansion plan which will include new products as well as expanding into new technologies. We have a very strong position in North America and places like Asia-Pac and have seen phenomenal growth starting at a very small base.

Can you quantify your comments on "phenomenal growth"? Are you generating positive operational cash flow?

Yes, Firetide is generating operational cash flow, and we're growing fast — faster than the total addressable market of the WiFi sector. (Note: McCool specifically did not want to comment on whether the cash flow was positive or negative.)

What was the growth rate? What was it year-over-year for 2012?

We would prefer to not disclose comparisons of this nature.

How many employees does Firetide currently have and are there any plans to expand?

Our current headcount is just over 100, and we are hiring in all functional areas: engineering, support, marketing and sales.

Any plans to raise another round of funding?

We are not talking about raising funding at the current time.

IPVM Analysis

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

The most positive element of the new hire is the validation it brings for Firetide. While Cisco's brand in surveillance is a punchline Firetide's location in Silicon Valley helped. Getting a Cisco executive to move to Firetide is impressive, especially since Firetide serves a niche within a niche (wireless within surveillance). Moreover, if the company wanted to raise more funding or negotiate partnerships, we believe the new CEO's background would help such efforts.

On the other hand, Firetide's strategy appears to be largely the same as it has for the last few years. While Firetide started with a push for wireless mesh everywhere in surveillance, they have struggled to win against dramatically lower cost options, like Ubiquiti. Our survey of favorite wireless surveillance products demonstrated that. 

The areas that Firetide are targeting are niche, even for wireless surveillance. While the company may be able to excel in applications where vehicles, and the wireless devices therein, are moving very fast, that is a distinct minority of the market (though individual projects are likely to be large). More problematic is likely to be the plan to capitalize on backhauling video to the cloud, given the extreme cost of building such robust, bandwidth heavy networks versus leveraging edge storage inside or at the camera.

Moreover, even 'bullish' projections of wireless surveillance growth offer fairly modest prospects.

Overall, it appears that Firetide will continue to be a niche player in the surveillance market. However, it will be worth watching what changes the new CEO brings over the next year, as he settles in.

Firetide's response:

"We think wireless will replace lots of wired ... A really good robust wireless mesh network has the potential to replace a whole range of wired applications [not just video]. That's the point. Rather than being a niche there is going to be a growing need for customers. Not just in wireless video, but wireless everything."

On the wireless surveillance market:

"We do believe that video over a wireless mesh network isn't a big market, but there's no need to switch our focus away from that that and we're not. But when you look at the lower cost options like Ubiquiti and you apply them to mission critical applications, we believe that our solution is a better solution. Often it's not about lower cost, it's about a better application, and we think people will be willing to pay for that." 

"Mobility and back hauling video to the cloud, up until now, it's been hard to do it, but we think with the right mesh network technology we can do both. These areas, you say are niche areas. We see them as growth areas. You may say it's niche, but we see these as the more technically challenging and the most relevant to customers … These applications have huge potential if they can be done well. Today it's a minority argument, but there is an upside. And the upside is pretty big if we can do it right." 

1 report cite this report:

The Sad Finale For Firetide (Unicam Acquires) on May 19, 2014
It was inevitable. After burning through ~$50 million over the past decade, the former poster boy for wireless video surveillance, Firetide, has...
Comments (2) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

ProdataKey (PDK) Access Company Profile on Aug 09, 2019
 Utah based ProdataKey touts low cost cloud access, wireless controllers, and no dealer required national distribution availability.  But how does...
Mobile Access Control Shootout - Farpointe, HID, Openpath, Nortek, Proxy on Jul 29, 2019
One of the biggest rising trends in access control is using phones as credentials but which offering is best? IPVM has tested five of the...
Siklu $400 Compact 60GHz Radio on Jul 24, 2019
Siklu first entered the video surveillance market with a $6,000 per link solution, is now aiming down market with their newest 60GHz wireless...
Calipsa - UK AI Startup Profile on Jul 10, 2019
Analytic startups are a major industry trend. One UK company, Calipsa is aiming to use AI to filter out false positive alarms for live video...
Directory of 60 Video Surveillance Startups on Jun 25, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
IFSEC 2019 Show Report on Jun 19, 2019
The UK's largest trade show, IFSEC, is underway and IPVM has been examining what is new and happening at the show. Inside, we cover: Huawei...
Genetec Synergis Cloud Link - Complex, Costly and Confusing on Jun 18, 2019
Genetec's Synergis Cloud Link is complex, costly and confusing compared to competitor access control architectures. Inside this note, we examine...
Startup Vaion Launching End-to-End AI Solution Backed with $20 Million Funding on Jun 17, 2019
An EU / USA video surveillance startup, Vaion, founded by ex-Cisco Senior Directors is launching an end-to-end VSaaS platform with $20 million in...
Embattled $400 Million China Funded Philippines Surveillance System Proceeds on Jun 13, 2019
An embattled 12,000 camera surveillance system project that will cost ~$400 million will proceed.  The project contract was awarded, had its...
Favorite Wireless Manufacturers 2019 on Jun 12, 2019
Many wireless options exist for video surveillance but how are integrator's overall favorites? 170 integrators answered the question: What is...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Dahua OEM Directory 2019 on Aug 16, 2019
US Government banned Dahua OEMs for dozens of companies. The following directory includes 40+ of those companies with a graphic and links to...
Installation Course - Register Now on Aug 15, 2019
Register Now for the September 2019 Video Surveillance Install Course. This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
Axis Suffers Outage, Provides Postmortem on Aug 15, 2019
This week, Axis suffered an outage impacting their website and cloud services. Inside this note, we examined what happened, what was impacted...
Hikvision Scrutinized In The Netherlands on Aug 15, 2019
Hikvision is facing unprecedented scrutiny in the Netherlands, at the same time the US government ban has taken effect. This week, a Dutch...
Axis 4K Camera Shootout 2019 on Aug 14, 2019
Axis' 4K Q3518-LVE claims the "best video quality possible", with Lightfinder super low light performance, Axis' high end Forensic WDR, and...
CheckMySystems Company Profile on Aug 14, 2019
CheckMySystems says that too many users respond, "I get an email when something is wrong" when talking about their video system maintenance plan,...
Hikvision OEM Directory on Aug 13, 2019
The Chinese government-owned and US-government banned Hikvision has become the world's largest video surveillance manufacturer and generally hidden...
Biometrics Usage Statistics 2019 on Aug 13, 2019
Biometrics are commonly used in phones, but how frequently are they used for access? 150+ integrators told us how often they use biometrics,...
US Government Ban of Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei Takes Effect Now on Aug 13, 2019
The 'prohibition on use or procurement' of Dahua, Hikvision and Huawei products and 'essential components' take effect today, August 13, 2019, one...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact