Tech Industry

Microworkz president steps down

Embattled Microworkz president Rick Latman resigns, as one of the early free PC and Internet appliance manufacturers turns to a more experienced management team to guide it through rough times.

Embattled Microworkz president Rick Latman has resigned, as one of the early free PC and Internet appliance manufacturers turns to a more experienced management team to guide it through the pitfalls of the new market.

Microworkz has struggled to deliver products on time and successfully manage relationships with some partners in the face of high demand for its sub-$200 PC, the Webzter Jr.

The company, which is set to launch the iToaster Internet appliance, has been seen as emblematic of the hazards facing both "free PC" customers and the businesses trying to make any money by selling computers and similar devices for very low prices.

After launching the Webzter, Microworkz customers complained that the company was slow to fill orders, with reports of some premature credit card charges. Later, its ISP partner EarthLink sued the company amid allegations of non-payment of $86,000.

"We have grown remarkably fast, perhaps too fast, and it's time for a more seasoned management influence to take hold," said Latman, in a statement today.

The company will go forward with plans to introduce the iToaster, which features integrated free Internet access and turns on instantly. The device will start shipping this week, Microworkz said.

Latman will step down on or before November 15, the company announced today. A successor has not yet been named, although the company recently tapped Lance Rosen, a former executive with Disney Channel and Vulcan Northwest, as chief operating officer.

"For the past five months this start-up company has led the industry in innovation, and with a deeper management team will successfully compete in this fast changing environment," Rosen said in a statement.

Latman will stay on as chairman of the board.