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Bill Burns oversaw four years of revenue growth at his former employer before sales headed south, and that's a good enough track record for Embrane.

Dapper Embrane Exec Defends New CEO

Mitch Wagner
4/4/2014
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LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- Newly appointed Embrane CEO Bill Burns was pushed out as head honcho of the last company he ran, test equipment vendor Spirent, after a year and a half of declining revenues. (See Spirent Dumps Its CEO.)

So why does Embrane Inc. think he was a catch as its new CEO? Because of his initial track record at Spirent.

Embrane, which provides application management for traditional and software-defined networks, named Burns as CEO to replace co-founder Dante Malagrinò, who continues as chief product officer. Embrane was doing the Startup Founder Shuffle, bringing in Burns to provide professional management for the next stage of growth. (See Embrane Taps Ex-Spirent Boss Bill Burns as CEO.)

I caught up with Embrane VP Marketing John Vincenzo at their booth here at Interop, and we talked about Burns once I got over the retina-burn from Embrane employees' brightly colored boothwear.

Embrane VP Marketing John Vincenzo
The shoes make the outfit.
The shoes make the outfit.

I noted that Burns was pushed out of Spirent last year after revenue declined in 2012 and 2013. But Vincenzo defended Burns. "Look at the entire time he was as the company," Vincenzo said. For Burns's first four years at Spirent, he increased revenue, profitability, and market share.

Spirent went from $427 million revenue in 2009, Burns's first full year as CEO, to $528 million in 2011, his last good year.

"It's a day-to-day battle to grow new business at a startup," Vincenzo said, adding that Burns has the leadership experience to get the job done.

I haven't talked to Burns yet -- he's no doubt doing the new employee thing at Embrane, meeting with colleagues, filling out HR e-paperwork, and getting lost between the coffee machine and his desk. But I hope to talk with him soon, and find out more about Embrane's technology and plans under the new leadership, as soon as I stop seeing afterimages from Vincenzo's clothing.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to mwagner@lightreading.com.

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Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/4/2014 | 7:43:25 PM
More questions
Why did they announce this management change a few days after the big round of funding? Wouldn't it make more sense to have done both simultaneously?

An analyst I spoke with said he was unimpressed by Burns's record. Not a superstar. I responded: But look at his record of growing revenue his first years at Spirent. The analyst responded: Sometimes company revenue just grows as long as the CEO stays out of the way. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/4/2014 | 7:41:48 PM
Re: aargh
PaulERainford - "It is important to own your pants."

Which reminds me: The keynotes at Interop are not "pants-optional." 

I learned that the hard way. 
sam masud
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sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/4/2014 | 2:25:37 PM
Re: aargh
Au contraire, he has a great sense of color.
VYFCT
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VYFCT,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/4/2014 | 10:58:44 AM
Dapper indeed!
It takes a special kind of person to actually rock that look and personally I think John Vincenzo pulls it off in spades. 

And congratulations Mr. Burns - best of luck in your new role at Embrane.
PaulERainford
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PaulERainford,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/4/2014 | 10:20:15 AM
Re: aargh
As an explanation, that raises more questions than it answers, Sarah.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
4/4/2014 | 9:44:53 AM
Re: aargh
I meant it more in this way:

 
PaulERainford
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PaulERainford,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/4/2014 | 9:41:05 AM
Re: aargh
It is important to own your pants.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
4/4/2014 | 9:10:54 AM
Re: aargh
I see the other guy is wearing black pants, so this wasn't a required uniform for the show. I like it though. He owns that bright orange.
PaulERainford
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PaulERainford,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/4/2014 | 7:22:34 AM
aargh
When golfwear goes bad...
Ray@LR
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Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
4/4/2014 | 6:52:43 AM
Is anyone there?
Is John in that picture? I couldn't see him...
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