Kheradpir's Coriant Comeback
What just happened at Coriant?
The optical transport vendor has named Shaygan Kheradpir as its new CEO. (See Coriant Appoints a New CEO.)
If that name sounds familiar, it's because Kheradpir made headline news in 2014 for his short and eventful tenure as CEO of Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), where his ten months in the hotseat started with a public attack by activist investors, continued with a strategy review, job cuts and executive defections, and ended with his resignation in November last year following a "review by the board of directors of his leadership and his conduct in connection with a particular negotiation with a customer." (See Turmoil at Juniper as CEO Quits.)
That's not going to look great on a résumé, right?
Yet less than a year after his high-profile exit from Juniper, Kheradpir is now running Coriant , taking over from Pat DiPietro, who becomes vice chairman and returns to his role as operating partner at Marlin Equity Partners , the private equity company that built Coriant by stitching together the optical unit of Nokia, Tellabs and part of Sycamore Networks. (See Coriant 7100 Pico Targets Metro Edge, SoftBank Choose Coriant for Metro and Tellabs to Be Sold to Marlin for $891M.)
Kheradpir isn't walking into the Coriant role blind: According to the vendor, he has been working "closely with the senior management team since earlier this year in the role of Operating Executive to Marlin Equity Partners."
The vendor also says that Kheradpir is "a recognized business and technology leader with over 28 years of executive experience across the telecom, technology, and financial services industries."
DiPietro is quoted as saying: "We are honored to welcome Shaygan to Coriant and fortunate to have an executive of his caliber leading the company. His strategic insight and guidance on focused operational execution have been invaluable since we began working together earlier this year, and we are confident in his ability to drive Coriant to the next level of growth."
That's all very nice, but out in the tough, backstabbing world of business, you're only as good as your last job, right?
One Juniper employee, talking to Light Reading on background, noted that the difference at Juniper under the control of Kheradpir and his successor, Rami Rahim, is "like night and day," with the New IP vendor now seemingly much more settled and focused under Rahim. "It's incredible. I don't know what Coriant is thinking," added the Juniper staffer.
Kheradpir undoubtedly has plenty of industry experience, having spent time at GTE and Verizon Communications and spending time as the chief operations and technology officer at Barclays Bank. But how suited is he to running an optical systems vendor with about 500 customers and annual revenues of more than $1 billion (estimated) that is seeking to differentiate itself and grow in a highly competitive market where the competition comes from the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena, Cisco, Huawei, Infinera and many others?
It may be unfair, but perception counts for a great deal and you can be sure that Coriant's rivals will be making the most of his recent employment history. This looks like a risky appointment by Marlin Equity Partners -- for Coriant's and Kheradpir's sake, I hope I'm proved wrong.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading