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LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
12/15/2005
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The second annual Leading Lights Awards Dinner is now in the history books, and while the format was similar to last year's affair – lots of food, drink, and entertainment both planned and unintentional – the results were as dramatic as anyone could have hoped for.

The Awards Dinner was the culmination of several weeks of hard work. The winners, in each case, are real winners, having survived three months of scrutiny and debate by a staff of more than 20 editors and analysts from Light Reading and its leading market-research division, Heavy Reading. Light Reading received more than 300 awards nominations in all, and each one was screened by our editors and analysts.

Once the initial screening was complete, a list of "contenders" was handed over to an elite panel of judges consisting of Scott Raynovich, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading; Scott Clavenna, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading; and Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading.

After some conference calls and a few email threads that, when printed, could paper the Pacific Coast Highway, our judging panel came to a consensus in each of the 11 awards categories.

For a complete rundown of the nominees, please check out: Leading Lights Awards Finalists. The winners are as follows...

  • Industry Statesman, Public Company: The CEO or senior executive who has demonstrated the greatest qualities of leadership, technological vision, and financial acumen when guiding his or her public company through the telecommunications recession

    Patricia Russo, CEO, Lucent Technologies Inc.


    (NYSE: LU) has taken its lumps in these pages, but the company came on strong in 2005. With IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), Russo has transformed Lucent from a sad-sack layoffs machine into a relevant next-generation networking company. And Lucent has backed up the talk – more about that later – with wins at the triumvirate of (NYSE: BLS), Cingular Wireless LLC, and (NYSE: SBC), with (NYSE: VZ) reportedly in the wings.

  • Best Investment Potential, Public Company: The company that represents the best long-term potential return on investment by virtue of solid management, product development, and market growth potential

    Redback Networks


    Another company that went through hard times, Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) rebounded from a bankruptcy filing and a 1-for-73 reverse split to become a factor in the IPTV craze. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and (Nasdaq: JNPR) still provide stiff competition, but their stocks flagged this year while Redback soared. A key win at BellSouth indicated the strength of Redback's technology; investors can look forward to a potential win with Verizon and the possibility of profitability in 2006.

  • Best New Product, Public Company: The company that has developed a market-leading product that, through engineering and technical excellence, best enables the deployment of profitable next-generation telecommunications services

    Alcatel's 1850 Transport Service Switch


    The "universal" switch seems indicative of the telecom industry's direction, as Ethernet begins to hold sway in carrier networks. 's (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) 1850 presages the trend of multiservice provisioning platforms (MSPP) that are more Ethernet than "multiservice," and while the box is only available in Europe so far, it appears to be a solid representative of future network developments.

  • Best New Service, Public Company: The service provider or carrier that has most successfully deployed a market-leading, revenue-generating service based on next-generation telecommunications technology

    Verizon Inc.’s FiOS TV


    IPTV isn't a reality for most consumers yet, but fiber-to-the-home can be. By skipping the IPTV step for now, going instead with tried-and-true RF video delivery, Verizon has gotten a step ahead of SBC's Project Lightspeed and BellSouth's fiber plans. Yes, Asian broadband still kicks U.S. butt. Verizon, though, has shown that the big RBOCs really can deliver when the pressure is on, and FiOS is hopefully a harbinger of better things to come.

  • Best Marketing, Public Company: The company that has best communicated a specific technology vision and/or business proposition to customers and investors, especially in cases where the company has defined and led the market

    Lucent Inc.’s IP Multimedia Subsystem


    Lucent has grabbed hold of the conversation on fixed/mobile convergence and put its name in the forefront of IMS discussion. That's given the company a hook for its ongoing recovery story and revived Lucent's name as a technology contender. Competitors have been cornered into responding – including, arguably, Cisco, which touted IMS at its recent analyst conference but also stressed the importance of non-IMS applications, as if to dilute the press IMS has been getting.

  • Best M&A Strategy, Public Company: The company that has consistently demonstrated good timing, judgment, and execution in high-profile acquisitions

    Cisco Systems Inc.


    Cisco makes so many acquisitions that its strategy is like a horoscope: On any given day, you can dummy up a reason why it makes sense. But Cisco's buys this year go beyond hand-waving mysticism. The company still acquires tiny companies with key technology (Nemo Systems, NetSift Inc.) or bigger ones that expand its network reach (FineGround Networks, Sheer Networks). This year could mark a major turning point for Cisco, though, as the pending Scientific-Atlanta Inc. (NYSE: SFA) purchase strengthens Cisco's video story and – alongside the KiSS Technology pickup – could catapult the company into the home-networking arena.

  • Industry Statesman, Private Company: The CEO or senior executive who has demonstrated the greatest qualities of leadership, technological vision, and financial acumen when guiding his or her private company or startup through the telecommunications recession

    Selina Lo, President & CEO, Ruckus Wireless Inc.


    Maybe her management style has softened a bit (or maybe not), but Lo still commands attention. Ruckus Wireless Inc. stands out from the wireless LAN crowd with its plans for unwiring the networked home with an eye toward multimedia quality of service. A deal with (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) is the feather in Lo's cap and provides another reason to keep an ear to the ground for Ruckus.

  • Top M&A or IPO Candidate, Private Company: The company that most clearly has the management, products, and financial stability to launch a successful IPO or be acquired on its own terms within the next 12 months

    Force10 Networks Inc.


    A cynic would note that Force10 Networks Inc. hasn't gone public after a couple years of apparent success. At least it hasn't graced Light Reading's Top Ten Private Companies as often as Calix Networks Inc. With revenues of $60 million projected for this year and a slate of customers that includes Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), and ESPN, Force10 seems primed for a big move.

  • Best New Product, Private Company: The company that has developed a market-leading product that, through engineering and technical excellence, best enables the deployment of profitable next-generation telecommunications services

    Airgo Networks AGN300 Chipset


    Though wireless LAN is on the rise, the technology itself is starting to seem commonplace – until you come across something like this. Claiming the speed throne for now, Airgo Networks Inc. has produced a 240-Mbit/s chipset (average throughput of 120 Mbit/s), a fine example of multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) technology put to use, with a dash of coolness for a slowly commoditizing WLAN world.

  • Best New Service, Private Company: The service provider or carrier that has most successfully deployed a market-leading, revenue-generating service based on next-generation telecommunications technology

    InfiniRoute Networks's VOIP Direct


    VOIP peering could be a crucial element of future telecom networks. Other efforts are afoot to help out VOIP upstarts, but InfiniRoute Networks Inc. has a VOIP peering service that caters to Tier 1 carriers, giving them a chance to use VOIP to reach into new territory. That's a potential revenue and market-share booster for the big service providers, not to mention a way to help them boost their VOIP stories. VOIP peering is cool technology, but InfiniRoute might have found the best path to a solid payback.

  • Best Marketing, Private Company: This was awarded to the company that has best communicated a specific technology vision and/or business proposition to customers and investors, especially in cases where the company has defined and led the market

    Metro Ethernet Forum Carrier Certification


    Credit the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) for getting the job done. In two years, they've helped make carrier Ethernet a serious, even vital, element of the equipment world. The certification program is what will make the concept fly, though, by giving equipment vendors the guidelines to what "carrier Ethernet" means to the carriers. That kind of homogeneity is what's kept Ethernet alive all these decades, and it's what will power carrier Ethernet as well.

    — The Staff, Light Reading

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    Pete Baldwin
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    Pete Baldwin,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 2:50:32 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    So ... whaddaya think? Any big surprises among the winners? Any categories where we blew it?
    Ben_Stern
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    Ben_Stern,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 2:50:31 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    So who actually showed up to receive their awards as opposed to sending representatives on their behalf?

    "Shut up, sit down. I told you not to be stupid, you moron." - Ben Stern
    midyatspor1000
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    midyatspor1000,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 2:50:30 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    Why don't you guys tell us what the voting was, how many people responded etc. put it in a table format, just curious, who were the 2nd place winners.

    Ben_Stern
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    Ben_Stern,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 2:50:08 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    No, I did receive my invitation. I did not want to sit right next to Pat Russo, so I filed it with the rest of the junk mail.

    "Shut up, sit down. I told you not to be stupid, you moron." - Ben Stern
    bithead_22
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    bithead_22,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 2:50:07 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    Outside of the world of fluff marketing, the Lighties (and every other award given by a publication) are completely meaningless.

    Can you imagine some hotshot senior-level engineer visiting a vendor, spotting a framed award or a "Lightie", then thinking to himself, "well then, they won a Lightie - they make the short list." Of course not.

    Can you also imagine Wall St. responding to the "best investment potential award" by buying a bunch of the stock and setting off year-long growth? Please.

    The truth is LR and HR have no earthly idea what the best product is, who the real "statesmen" are, or where the best investment potential lies.

    We should just call the Lighties what they are - a marketing gimmick. Frankly, I think the whole concept of publication-bestowed awards should just go away.
    LightWarrior
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    LightWarrior,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 2:49:56 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    Wierd for an industry consortium like Metro Ethernet Forum to win a Lightie. Seems like, with all the resources they have available through their membership, they are more like a public company. Hard enough for a limited-budget private company to have to compete with public companies for recongition, never mind the consortium folks. Maybe put them in their own category next year?
    manoflalambda
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    manoflalambda,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 2:49:50 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    Pat Russo?! Muahahahaha... Wonder what the retirees, LRO and CWA think of that, if anything...

    Salute,
    Manoflalambda
    bitdropper
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    bitdropper,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 2:49:26 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    "Why don't you guys tell us what the voting was, how many people responded etc. put it in a table format, just curious, who were the 2nd place winners."


    -------------------------------------------------

    Oh...that's easy!

    Just get a list of the companies that advertise on LR, sorted from most $ to least. :-)
    Scott Raynovich
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    Scott Raynovich,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    12/5/2012 | 2:49:23 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    bithead - c'mon tell us where you've worked. Tellium? Tachion?

    Why so bitter?
    SiliconValley777
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    SiliconValley777,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 2:49:15 AM
    re: LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners
    Wow....Bitter is right

    It's probably Jonathan Reeves from Mangrove all upset he didn't walk away with any awards for his ego display case (as stated in previous postings)

    Despite the Telecom industry still in the dumps, Light Reading is very informative on the Industry
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