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Customers ‘moving too fast’ led to firings, says Parallel Wireless CEO

Steve Papa Parallel Wireless.jpg

Parallel Wireless CEO Steve Papa has blamed customers wanting to move too fast to open RAN for the company’s mass firings last month.

Papa (pictured) has not confirmed how many of the company’s staff were dismissed in late June, but has posted a long defence of his position, signed “Steve and the PW team”, on LinkedIn.

“In recent years we have felt pressure from customers to ‘sprint’ to solve the hugely diverse technical needs for the wide variety of global mobile networks – presumably, this was from the global 5G enthusiasm,” he wrote yesterday.

“But in a Covid constrained environment the realities of the longer times to develop and introduce new technology into the network became increasingly clear and we mutually concluded with MNOs that instead of a sprint, we should be managing for a marathon,” he added.

“A marathon where we first focus on a self-sustaining business for key segments of the industry and broaden from there.”

Parallel Wireless, which last year was put at the top of Appledore Research’s league table for contracts in the open RAN market, dismissed people from all four of its locations, India, Israel, the UK and the US.

Indian technology consultant RIU Global Services put the number at 500, a high proportion of the 835 employees Parallel Wireless is said to have had before the cuts.

Parallel Wireless is owned by venture capital investors and there are no public statements of its numbers. It has posted no information about the firings on its website.

Papa said in his post that this was “a significant reset of the Parallel Wireless business plan”, noting that it was “essentially resetting our scale to where we were prior to start of the Covid pandemic”.

He said the company’s “first priority is helping our talented departing team members identify new opportunities, correcting wrong assumptions made in haste, and re-organizing roles”. He did not say what these “wrong assumptions” were or who had made them.

He said he wanted to “unpack … what I was trying to convey” in what Papa accepted was a “concise (OK terse…) response” to the news from numerous ex-Parallel Wireless staff that they had been fired.

He said last week: “We are making adjustments to right size given the realities of global economic conditions, Covid supply chain constrained world, and the pace of adoption of open RAN.”

In his latest post, Papa said: “Our rollouts will continue, our RAN R&D will continue, and we will continue to innovate in partnership with [mobile network operators].”

He said Parallel Wireless have been focusing on “Huawei-class KPIs [key performance indicators]” for 2G and 4G – “and over the past 12 months we have gotten there – something that gives us great pride”.

But customers still wanted “a marathon”, he complained. “They have complex existing rollouts underway and while we can incrementally grow share, it’s at a pace that can’t justify the expenditure rate of a sprint.”

Papa said: “Parts of the cycle are conducive to funding a sprint and others are conducive to the marathon. It’s clear this has changed over the past six months and you see that reinforcing our reset to the marathon.”

The supply chain has created “increasingly long lead times and high costs”, that are “higher in present capital markets”, and “it was not sustainable/actionable at sprint speeds”, he wrote. “Again, this points to the need to reset to the marathon.”

Papa muted comments in both parts of his LinkedIn post, on the Parallel Wireless account.

Meanwhile, former CMO Eugina Jordan, who was one of those fired in June, has been working via LinkedIn to assist others who are now looking for jobs. Jordan is still wrongly listed as one of the leadership team on the Parallel Wireless website.

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