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January 13, 2014

Comings and Goings: NetMotion Wireless Appoints Erik Prusch as New CEO

NetMotion Wireless, a leading provider of enterprise mobility management software and solutions based on its long standing mobile VPN platform, announced early this morning that Clearlake Capital Group Operating Advisor and wireless industry veteran Erik Prusch has taken the reins as NetMotion's Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.  Our understanding is that Prusch began his new role back on January 2nd and that he is already deeply involved in developing the strategies needed to take NetMotion Wireless forward for the rest of the decade.

NetMotion has been around for some time, over a decade in fact (we started covering them back in 2003) as an independent entity. The company has long persevered in a space where most of its former competitors have been swallowed up by giants such as Cisco. Back in September 2012 the company was acquired by affiliates of Clearlake and had been under the interim stewardship of Chris Gibbons, another Clearlake Operating Advisor. Gibbons will continue to serve as the Chairman of NetMotion’s Board. 

Prusch certainly brings a great deal of experience and expertise in navigating technology companies through rapid growth and expansion phases. When we first heard the news that NetMotion was moving ahead with a CEO change - which also accompanied the departure of several long standing NetMotion execs, we immediately thought that perhaps Clearlake was preparing to sell the company to one or another of the industry giants (e.g. Cisco, Hewlett-Packard).

In a recent conversation however the folks at NetMotion insisted that Clearlake is looking ahead to much more aggressively pursue what it believes are extensive enterprise opportunities in enterprise mobility management. Certainly 2014 is going to be a banner year for enterprise mobility, with security both within and without the corporate walls continuing to play front and center with enterprise IT.  Aside from personnel changes the company has also down a lot of under the covers technical work on its platform that we'll speak more directly to tomorrow. The company believes that now is the time to take the leap towards aggressive company management and business delivery.

Prusch brings signficant finance, operations, and leadership expertise to the NetMotion game. He also brings significant experience leading technology businesses with a focus on software and solutions - exactly the kind of scenario NetMotion delivers on.  Most recently he was the President and CEO at Clearwire Corporation, a U.S. provider of 4G wireless broadband services, where he oversaw significant increases in the company’s revenues and subscriber base, improved margins, and successfully led the sale of the company to Sprint.  Prior to Clearwire, Mr. Prusch served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Borland Software.  Other leadership roles include serving as Vice President of Finance at Intuit's TurboTax division.

Prusch believes that, "NetMotion has attractive opportunities for expansion, and the company is well-positioned to benefit from significant market trends, including the continuing rise in the number of mobile workers, the increasing use of mission-critical applications on mobile devices, and numerous regulatory changes requiring greater data security.”

All true in our own opinion. It's quite interesting that Prusch was the guy who had to steer through numerous obstacle courses with Clearwire. The fact that the endgame there resulted in the Sprint acquisition leaves us still wondering about NetMotion's ultimate fate. In any case, it is critical for NetMotion to move quickly forward with opening new sales channels and opportunities for itself beyond its traditional base. Whether to remain independent or to prove itself a valuable acquisition the company absolutely needs to make this happen.

We wish Prusch the best of luck!

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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