LOS GATOS, CALIF. — Wheels of Zeus, a startup formed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to develop a wireless radio system called Woznet, announnced its management team. The firm has also signed letters of intent with two prospective customers, Rich Rifredi, the new chief operating officer, told VentureWire.
Mr. Rifredi previously helped found Pixo, which developed applications for wireless phones, and was acquired by Sun Microsystems earlier this year. His career began at Apple, where he spent nine years and ended his tenure there as worldwide product manager for the company’s Powerbook products.
Frank Canova, the new vice president of engineering, previously served as vice president of worldwide product engineering at Palm. He had also worked at IBM, developing the company’s SmartPhone and managing PDA and portable computer projects.
Gina Clark joins the company as vice president of business development and marketing. She had been vice president of marketing at PalmSource. She also held the same position at LoopNet, an online service for the commercial real estate industry.
The company’s product, a cross between an RFID tag and a cell phone, is a wireless radio with one to two miles of range that provides location and status information. Mr. Rifredi said applications for the system include families keeping an eye on their pets and construction companies tracking whether their equipment has been turned off or on.
The devices have much longer range than RFID tags, which have a range of only a few feet, and do not require subscriptions like cell phones. The device will have a battery life measured in months.
Wheels of Zeus plans to sell its reference designs to manufacturers with distribution in consumer areas as well as in business and enterprise markets. Consumers won’t see a device in stores until the second half of next year, Mr. Rifredi said. The price would be left up to the manufacturers, but Mr. Rifredi says the bill of materials for the device will be $25.
The firm raised $6 million in a first round last year from Mobius Venture Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Palo Alto Investors, and plans to raise a second round later this year.