I couldn't resist the opportunity to ask Van Harlingen if Belkin had learned anything from Cisco's poorly conceived decision to proactively install new firmware on some of its high-end Linksys routers that were already in the field without informing the people who had purchased them. The new firmware not only forced users to switch to Cisco's cloud-based admin tool, but it also came with terms of service that many viewed as an egregious invasion of privacy. Cisco eventually reversed its decision.
"I can't criticize them [Linksys] for that," said Van Harlingen. "We've made our own missteps over the years. They were really excited about delivering the benefits of Smart Wi-Fi to as many of their customers as quickly as possible. Our approach will be 'let's listen to our customers very carefully before we take any dramatic actions.'"
Since mergers and acquisitions rarely occur without some job losses, I also asked Van Harlingen if Belkin planned to retain Linksys employees across the board, or if the company wanted only the Linksys engineering teams. "Across the board," he replied. "We intend to merge the two companies. Linksys has incredibly talented people in key roles. But we will be looking for places, where there are opportunities, where it makes sense to leverage--I guess redundancy is the word."