Remote Control Tools: How the Netgear CEO Stay Connected

© Reuters. Patrick Lo, Chairman and CEO of Netgear, poses for a picture

By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

NEW YORK (Reuters) – When Patrick Lo co-founded computer network provider Netgear (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc in 1996, he envisioned an online utopia where “the Internet would drive everything”.

Who would have thought that the distant future Lo had envisioned would be here in a flash?

“When the pandemic happened, it was compressed into a period of one and a half years,” said Lo, 64, executive director of the San Jose, California-based provider of network hardware to consumers, businesses and service providers.

“We got Disney and Fox saying, ‘We need to get these new releases online.’ We have Peloton (NASDAQ 🙂 and people who exercise at home and do personal coaching, “Lo said. “That’s a big change.”

Lo spoke to Reuters about moving to a new normal last year. Edited excerpts can be found below.

Question: How has this pandemic changed your business?

A. There are two really clear trends that we saw after about three months into the pandemic.

The first is on the consumer side: there is a market segment that demands the best Wi-Fi internet experience, regardless of the cost. For them, activities are now 100% online – work, home schooling for their children, playing sports, entertainment, zoom parties, zoom dinners.

Many of these families have three to four family members and they cannot disturb one another while at work, causing them to separate. That means there must be enough bandwidth.

Work, school and other activities are carried out in far corners of their homes. So Wi-Fi needs to cover all ends of the house. It’s not cheap – it’s $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 per system. We have seen an enormous recovery in this particular segment.

The second trend is protecting online activities from cyber attacks. They want to make sure they keep an eye on their children.

We see the same trends in Europe and Asia.

Question: What did you focus on in terms of new products?

A. The products we have with the best coverage and speed for everyone have been around for more than a year, but they didn’t increase that much until the pandemic.

What we are seeing right now is that the service providers are responding. Here (in the Bay Area) Comcast (NASDAQ 🙂 has two gigabit internet – and then you have Samsung (KS :), which just released a phone that supports two gigabit internet. That’s why we’re introducing Wi-Fi that supports two gigabit internet.

We get feedback from parents on the software side. They want a feature in smart parental control software that has awards: “If you’re a good kid, I’ll give you two more hours of Facebook (NASDAQ :).”

This was awarded an innovation prize at the CES (the annual technology fair in December) and will be introduced in mid-March.

Question: What’s the best job advice you’ve received?

A. When I was at Hewlett-Packard, David Packard was still there. He said, “Patrick, you could be smart, you could be hard-working and that’s good, that’s fundamental, but to move forward in an organization you need two powers. You have to pull and push.”

You have to push as hard as you can. You have to work hard and be willing to volunteer for more work. But the train is just as important – you need to have a multilevel mentor above you to pull you along and you will be successful.

Question: What are your new work rituals?

A. I cycle alone at least four days a week and in the back streets of my neighborhood where there is very little traffic. It gives me an hour of quiet downtime on weekdays that I didn’t have before.

I do this during the work day. I have new ideas every time, so it’s really good. I also exercise, which means I can say to myself, “OK, now you can eat more.”

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