Pace Micro Reaches Out to the Americas

After establishing cable and satellite set-top-box beachheads with Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp. and BellSouth Corp., Pace Micro Technology plc is ready to make an even stronger push into the Americas.

For starters, Pace has established a national-accounts team to handle its North and South American cable, satellite and digital-subscriber-line equipment initiatives. And most of the company's new crew has ties to the cable industry.

Pace has tapped former Pioneer New Media Technologies Inc. and Time Warner Cable executive Neil Jones to head that division as vice president of new business development.

He'll be joined in Boca Raton, Fla., by BellSouth veteran Tim McCorkle and Jenny Bravo-Perry, a former Pioneer corporate sales manager.

Stephen Cimino, a 19-year cable veteran who most recently worked for General Instrument Corp. (now Motorola Broadband Communications Sector), is Pace's fourth new member. He'll be based in San Diego.

In addition to generating new set-top-box sales, the move also was designed to maintain relationships with Pace's current U.S. customers, Pace Americas president Neil Gaydon said.

Last month, BellSouth Entertainment ordered 200,000 Pace digital boxes to support the telco's entrance into the direct-to-home video and data-satellite business-a footprint that will initially cover nine states and a potential 14 million homes.

On the cable front, Pace got off the mark in the United States late last year with an order for a minimum of 750,000 boxes over the next three years from Time Warner. Then in July, Comcast awarded Pace a three-year contract for 350,000 digital set-tops.

"With this new national-accounts team, we'll grow bigger than that," Gaydon said.

If that happens, Pace will need some additional space from which to center its North and South American efforts.

The company said it has leased 26,000 square feet of office space in Florida Atlantic University's research-and- development park, and will move in this fall. Its current Florida office building, at 7,000 square feet, is a bit cramped, Gaydon said.

Pace's roots will spread from there in an attempt to attract talent and help it to boost its U.S. engineering ranks by another 60 or 70 and its U.S. operations to more than 100 employees over the next six months.

Pace has also agreed to help FAU develop part of its technology curriculum and "nurture new rising-star engineers," Gaydon said. Pace has similar relationships with the University of Leeds and York University in the United Kingdom.

In addition to its offices in San Diego and Boca Raton, Pace is not entirely averse to opening another U.S. office if its growth continues. One potential site among many is Denver, Gaydon said.

Denver "is certainly a possibility, but it would be more engineering than sales or marketing," he added. The majority of Pace's North and South American marketing and sales employees work from the company's Boca Raton office.

If and when Pace decides to open another hub in Denver, it would mark the vendor's second attempt to establish a base in the "Mile High City." In 1998, Pace shuttered its Denver office and consolidated its U.S. and Latin American operations in Florida after its initial push into the region failed to net any cable-operator deals.

Of course, Pace's future has brightened considerably since then after snatching large equipment deals with two of the top 10 U.S. MSOs. "We're talking with all of the top 10 MSOs on a regular basis," Gaydon said.

When asked whether Pace is ready to announce any additional U.S. digital-box deals, Gaydon would only say, "Some are further on in the process than others."

Across the pond, Pace put the polish last week on an extended deal with U.K.-based Kingston Communications plc, agreeing to supply the company with 10,000 asymmetrical-DSL-based "DSL 4000" digital set-top boxes.

Kingston will use those boxes to power its interactive-television platform, which supports video-on-demand and high-speed data services.