New CEO enters Danger's zone

The handheld start-up has tapped the former head of Concentric Network as its next chief executive officer, CNET has learned.

Handheld start-up Danger has tapped the former head of Concentric Network as its next chief executive officer, CNET has learned.

Danger has hired Henry "Hank" Nothhaft, who was CEO of Concentric before its acquisition by XO Communications. A formal announcement is expected on Tuesday.

Until last week, Nothhaft had served as CEO of SmartPipes, a networking software company. He is remaining chairman of SmartPipes.

Company co-founder Andy Rubin, who had been Danger's CEO, will maintain the title of president and add the role of chief strategy officer, overseeing the company's technology development efforts.

In a telephone interview, Nothhaft said he took the job because of the opportunities Danger has in the wireless data market.

"I believe right now the most attractive opportunity in the telecom industry, bar none, is the wireless data market," Nothhaft said. "It will be a huge market. Today it is a tiny market."

The move comes just as the company's flagship Hiptop product is coming to market. At the beginning of the month, wireless carrier T-Mobile began offering service for the consumer handheld device, which combines the ability to surf the Web, send e-mail and make phone calls from a device the size of a soap bar.

Sources say a search for a CEO had been under way for some time, with the company looking to build the ranks of its executive team. Danger also recently hired Nancy Hilker, former chief financial officer of Liberate Technologies.

Nothhaft said he believes that Danger has at least a year's lead on its competitors, but said the company needs to expand the number of carriers beyond the two that it has already announced: T-Mobile and Orange. Nothhaft said his first priority is lining up a firm launch schedule from a carrier beyond T-Mobile.

Privately held Danger is backed by a variety of venture firms, including Mobius Venture Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Diamondhead Ventures, T-Venture (the venture capital arm of T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom), and Orange Ventures (the venture arm of European wireless company Orange).

Nothhaft said that he will try and raise roughly an additional $30 million in third-round financing. "The company's business plan is well funded but not fully funded right now," he said.

However, Nothhaft said he does not expect the company to go public anytime soon.

"Early 2005 would be a realistic time to be thinking about an IPO," Nothhaft said, noting the market for initial public offerings is "pretty difficult."'s Richard Shim contributed to this report.