Selina Lo, president and chief executive of Ruckus Wireless, has plenty of reasons to smile. At the helm of one of the fastest-growing companies in Silicon Valley with phenomenal revenue growth rate, the Hong Kong-born Lo has carved out a lucrative niche: providing the technology to allow telecom giants to cover blind spots in mobile internet coverage.
“When you think of wi-fi, you think of it in home or enterprise applications. Now we’re putting it to use in public areas and on a city-wide scale,” says the 52-year-old tech industry veteran.
She previously did stints at HP and Nortel, but found that her heart yearned for the entrepreneurial. A string of networking start-ups followed, including Alteon Websystems, which was acquired by Nortel in 2000 for US$7.8 billion (HK$60.8 billion), a transaction which netted her and her partners hundreds of millions of dollars. After the dotcom bust a decade ago, she decided to take early retirement. But it wouldn’t last long.
Known for her ability to create markets, Lo initially joined Ruckus as an investor. Lo found Ruckus in a roundabout way – she was initially just looking for someone to help with her wiring troubles.
She wanted to move her television to the bedroom but found that it required major structural work to her house because of the wiring involved.
Lo knew she was on to a winner when she looked at Ruckus’ product in 2004, a “smart” antenna technology that was able to shape and direct a wi- fi radio wave toward
its recipient, making it possible to deliver video wirelessly for the first time. “Keep working on the technology. Don’t hire a CEO. I’ll help you guys out a little,” she told the fledgling company.
Soon after, she put in her own capital, took over the helm and filled the ranks of the US$51 million venture- backed Ruckus with the best and the brightest in the industry.
Today, the company supplies telecom giants such as PCCW in Hong Kong and Deustche Telekom in Germany with infrastructure-grade hardware to make wi-fi “hotspots” in a city-wide grid.
Ruckus also provides wi-fi solutions for a growing list of small and medium- sized enterprises, including Wat Phra Dhammakaya, Thailand’s largest Buddhist temple, and luxury hotel chain Mandarin Oriental.
“Now with the iPhone, people want wi-fi everywhere,” says Lo, who thinks that although newer and faster technologies are replacing 3G, data carriers will look to wi-fi to offload growing data needs to a cheaper network. “In 10 years, we will see next-gen wi-fi everywhere.”