RealTime IT News

Metricom Seeks Chapter 11

Metricom Inc., provider of the high-speed Ricochet wireless Internet service, Monday filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, mere days after it laid off 23 percent of its staff.

"As a result of the depressed state of the capital markets, we have been unable to raise necessary additional capital," said Interim Chief Executive Officer Ralph C. Derrickson. "Consequently, management and the Board of Directors decided this action would be in the best interests of all of Metricom's stakeholders. Although there are certainly many challenges ahead, we believe that the prospects for our outstanding technology remain strong. We will continue to work hard to preserve the value inherent in our technology, while evaluating the options before us."

The firm filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Jose, Calif., and said it will seek to restructure its operations and debt obligations while maintaining operation of the Ricochet network and providing services and access to its resellers, channel partners and direct customers. The company retained the law firm of Murphy Sheneman Julian & Rogers.

As part of the effort to reorganize the company, the board appointed Kevin I. Dowd to the newly created position of chief restructuring officer. Dowd, a principal of Nightingale & Associates LLC, is a corporate turnaround specialist who has served as an outside advisor to Metricom for the past several weeks. He will now oversee the restructuring efforts and evaluate options for financing its continuing operations, as well as looking into other strategic alternatives.

"It is clear to me that Metricom's wireless Internet access product is viable and that its Ricochet service offering provides the fastest mobile wireless communications solution on the market today," Dowd said. "The company believes that today's filing is the best means to preserve these assets moving forward."

The announcement is the latest in a string of bad news from Metricom. Last Tuesday, the company cut its staff by 139 employees, leaving 451 to run the show. In March, the company cut 179 jobs and announced a few weeks later that it only had enough cash on hand to last through August, despite strong investment support from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and WorldCom.

Metricom stock has lost more than 40 percent of its value in the past few weeks. It was up 5.2 percent to $1.82 in late afternoon trading Monday.