Veteran Exec Kevin Hell, former DivX Head, Named On-Ramp Wireless CEO

10/31/12Follow @bvbigelow

After raising at least $44 million in venture capital and demonstrating its wireless networking technology in smart grid field trials, San Diego’s On-Ramp Wireless is ready to significantly expand and diversify its operations. As part of that move, the company today named veteran executive Kevin Hell as president and CEO.

His appointment takes effect today. Hell, 48, was previously the CEO of San Diego-based DivX, the video codec developer. During his eight-year reign at DivX, Hell expanded and diversified the company’s licensing business, negotiated deals with major Hollywood studios, and made two successful acquisitions. He also oversaw the 2010 sale of DivX to Novato, CA-based Sonic Solutions in a deal valued at $323 million—just months before Santa Clara, CA-based Rovi acquired the combined Sonic-DivX business for about $720 million.

After the sale of DivX, Hell took on a key role for CommNexus, San Diego’s nonprofit technology industry group, overseeing an expansion of its free EvoNexus program that more than doubled the size of San Diego’s free startup incubator. Hell stepped out as the incubator’s part-time chairman earlier this year, after CommNexus had established a second EvoNexus facility for Web and mobile app startups in downtown San Diego.

Joaquin Silva, who founded On-Ramp Wireless in 2008, will remain to assist with Kevin’s transition and take on other duties. In an e-mail this morning, Silva writes, “My plan is to stay with the company and run corporate development and business development, partnerships.” The company raised $10.1 million in June, and was working to raise another $10 million to $20 million by the end of the year.

Under Silva, On-Ramp developed its Ultra-Link Processing system, an M2M wireless networking technology that can establish low-power, low-data networking connections with devices across long distances, even if the devices are underground or in other hard-to-reach places.

Last year, On-Ramp’s technology was selected as one of 10 winners in the $200 million GE ecoimagination Challenge. The company also was among 30 named as “technology pioneers” by the World Economic Forum, which convenes the prominent conference of world business and economic leaders annually in Davos, Switzerland.

The company is moving to challenge some larger competitors in smart grid technology, including Silver Spring Networks and SmartSynch, now part of Itron.

“Having demonstrated the superiority of its wireless solutions in operational deployments with major utilities, On-Ramp is now positioned to scale its offering and diversify its markets,” said Don Telage, chairman of On-Ramp’s board. “Kevin’s experience, energy and demonstrated record of success make him the ideal CEO candidate to achieve these goals.”

Before joining DivX, Hell oversaw Palm branded products and wireless services as a senior vice president at Palm’s Solutions Group. Before that he was responsible for digital home products and services beyond the PC at Gateway computer.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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