By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – Is Arada Systems Windsor’s latest Wizie? The arrival, or apparent non-arrival, of Arada, a wireless technology company, seems to parallel the no-longer-here Wizie, a travel software company.
The Farmington Hills-based Wizie touched down at the airport with considerable fanfare in 2009. It was to take up quarters there and, by last year, was supposed to have 125 software developers busying themselves near the not so busy airport maintenance hangar. However, Wizie vanished, almost as quickly as it came.
After a four year apparent drought of high paying high tech job announcements, you can imagine how excited local politicians were in March last year when they held a news conference to announce the latest technology company to put down possible roots in the region.
With operations in India and California, Arada was planning to add a new software research lab that would eventually create the usual bushel of jobs. Curiously it did not say whether it would settle in Windsor or Essex County.
With that up in the air, its entry into the local market had Windsor’s potentate mayor gushing.
Francis was, at least in comments contained in a press release issued by the local economic development office, “thrilled that Arada Systems has selected Windsor-Essex as its Canadian headquarters and I am especially pleased that this move will bring more high-tech jobs to the region.”
It is yet another signal that Windsor-Essex is a great place in which to invest, and highlights our ability to attract leading international technology companies to this area. It also continues to build upon the successes we have enjoyed to date to diversify our local economy.
As usual, he offered no evidence to verify any of this, including “the successes” and, disappointingly, no mention of the whereabouts of Wizie.
It turns out that Arada is a hard company to track down and, while it seems to have disappeared from Windsor as neatly and nicely as Wizie, it may have been at the time living elsewhere in Ontario, anyway.
A year before Windsor’s announcement, chartered accountant Vijay Kalra, operating as VKCA, claims he, “helped Arada Systems Inc., a high-tech company located in California, USA to move its research and development facility from California to Ontario, Canada during the summer of 2012.”
Just after Arada’s big announcement in Windsor, it sold “certain” assets and operations to Netgear, Inc, the purchaser reported in its US Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-Q on March 30, this year. The, “acquisition qualified as a business combination and was accounted for using the acquisition method of accounting.”
The “certain” word may explain why some Arada employees, in India on LinkedIn, are now listed as Netgear employees, but not all. There is evidence that what Netgear didn’t buy might still be operating, but not, it would seem, in Windsor.
At the 2014 Automotive Engineering Exposition, held earlier this year in Yokohama Japan, the company was in the Canada Pavilion and promoted a Markham address. This corroborates with the LinkedIn page of an employee who lives in the Toronto area.
The possible missing Arada does have a Windsor connection. It qualified for a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council $25,000 grant that had it working with University of Windsor professor Arunita Jaekel. Their collective project looked into enhancing the reliability of vehicular communication, something Arada is said to be good at. The professor has not responded to a request for information on the project.
Arada does plan on exhibiting, in September, at the Detroit 2014 Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress. In promotional material it suddenly claims it has both a Detroit office and a Windsor office, but offers no details.
Calls to its Santa Clara office are met with voice mail.
At its Sunnyvale office, a person did claim to be an Arada employee but, when asked about the company’s Windsor phone number, claimed the caller had reached a wrong number. There has also been no response to an email to the company.
Is Arada like a weather pattern that Mr G, New York’s famed PIX 11 weatherman, would say is on the move?
If nothing else, its non-arrival in the region could be problematic for the local economic development outfit. In its most recent annual report it claims to have created a sparse 84 jobs in 2013. It did not mention much about these jobs or, as is usual, provide any documentation, but did include a photo of the Arada press conference, which seems to infer Arada is among that paltry jobs creation number.
If Arada is not here, it could mean the developers, who burned through $2.4 million of taxpayer’s money last year, might only have created 64 jobs in a region that has lost 3,661 since February 2012.
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