The Kirkland company undergoes a corporate reorganization, as its founder returns to the helm, seeking to position the company toward a future of more Internet-connected devices.
UIEvolution entered 2016 growing and hiring. The Kirkland software maker boasted 210 employees and prominent customers like Toyota and Carnival Cruise Line.
But last month, the board decided on a course change, bringing back its founder to manage the company.
“As a founder, I was watching the company, and the biggest problem was we were really reactive and shortsighted,” said Satoshi Nakajima, who returned as CEO in February, replacing Chris Ruff. Nakajima retains his role as chairman of the board.
Last week, Nakajima announced the appointment of Robin Cole, a veteran sales executive who did stints at Microsoft and Sony, as chief operating officer.
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In a 700-word memo sent to employees outlining the corporate reorganization and the company’s goals, he said UIEvolution needs to curb its own bureaucracy and target a future of more Internet-connected devices.
UIEvolution builds Web-accessed software that businesses use to power things like touch-screen automobile dashboard panels or displays in hotel lobbies.
Nakajima, known as one of the architects of Microsoft’s Windows 95, founded UIEvolution in 2000 and sold it to Japanese video-game developer Square Enix in 2004. UIEvolution re-emerged as an independent company, under Ruff’s leadership, in 2007.
The company in recent years grew adept at serving industries with which it already had business relationships, Nakajima said, but it didn’t have its eye toward what was coming around the bend.
Its products were segmented, he said. For example, UIEvolution’s software designed for automakers didn’t share much of the software code with the company’s products for the hospitality industry.
“There was no comprehensive story or road map” behind the company’s efforts, Nakajima said. The company could coast for a while in that mode, he said, but “it’s going to be very difficult three years from now.”
Reached by email, Ruff, the former CEO, didn’t comment.
Giants like Google and Apple are targeting consumer applications across a range of home and business devices, Nakajima said. UIEvolution hopes to sell its services as the connective tissue for businesses that want to take advantage of connected devices in their arenas.
Technically, Nakajima is still an interim chief executive. He said some of the company’s shareholders want him to stick around on a permanent basis, but the decision isn’t final.