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BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
6/19/2001

BrightLink Networks Inc. says it has closed a $35.8 million financing round, its fourth so far. The new funds from BrightLink's investor group -- which includes Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Goldman Sachs & Co., Menlo Ventures, and the Sprout Group -- brings its total funding to date to $113.8 million (see BrightLink Scores $35.8 Million).

The new funds will help BrightLink continue product trials with carriers and will take it through its first revenue shipments, which will come sometime next year, says Gary Law, BrightLink's marketing VP.

BrightLink is building a large-scale STS1 grooming switch. The box sits at the edge of optical backbones, packing and unpacking wavelengths with relatively small 51.8-Mbit/s channels, at the same time as it sets up and tears down wavelengths to other nodes (see BrightLink's Prospects Brighten ). Its new funding round is crucial as the company is aiming to (someday) sell a box that gives Ciena Corp.'s (Nasdaq: CIEN) CoreDirector switch a run for its money.

The company's gone through its share of setbacks since the $52 million funding round that it closed in April 2000. In April 2001, it cut nearly a third of its staff (see BrightLink Slims Down). A month later it replaced CEO Harry Quackenboss with Paul Schaller, who has since agreed to be BrightLink's permanent chief executive (Quackenboss Quits ). Through it all, though, BrightLink has managed to get its product into trials with a couple of interexchange carriers.

Despite the slowdown in spending on core optical networks, BrightLink believes the market for its switches hasn't faded. "I think this is one area where [carriers] will be spending," says Law. "For the past five years they've been spending on capacity; now they need to spend money on managing that capacity."

BrightLink's headcount is now at about 130, Law says, and it's looking to spend some of its funding on a few more engineers.

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com

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developer
developer
12/4/2012 | 8:13:17 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon
I'd stay away from this Company and in general
companies funded by these set of investors. They
are way too smart for most engineers!

Not only did they lay off engineers, but they
reverse split their options 10 to 1 or something
like that bringing the outstanding options from
55 million or so to about 5 million and then issued fresh 50 million so stocks.

Now if you were one of the early engineers who
quit or one who got laid off, go figure how much
did your options get diluted....What a deal!
netskeptic
netskeptic
12/4/2012 | 8:13:16 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon

I would rather call this article "BrightLink got another baby bottle".

Thanks,

Netskeptic
wdog
wdog
12/4/2012 | 8:13:15 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon
rafaelg,

Did you read the article?

"BrightLink is building a large-scale STS1 grooming switch. The box sits at the edge of optical backbones, packing and unpacking wavelengths with relatively small 51.8-Mbit/s channels......"
rafaelg
rafaelg
12/4/2012 | 8:13:15 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon
Isn't this product kind of old stuff?
I would think that as OXO gets further along that the OEM would offer a pkg including groomming?
Am I off on this?
trends
trends
12/4/2012 | 8:13:01 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon
As an engineer that got caught-up in the layoff, I have to come to the defense of the company. Management did the only thing that they could to save the company. If I had been there, I would have pulled the trigger too. The company was just not mature enough to operate a remote site.

With regard to the options, they have been very accomodating to those that they laid-off. The company gave us all three months to decide if we wanted the stock. After deciding that I didn't (after the 10:1 reverse split) they quickly returned my early exercise money. Forget, for a moment, the dilution. How much would the shares be worth if the company failed to acquire another round of funding?

Granted, if you worked there a year and left with your options then you got screwed, but from what I saw, you should have been. How such a simple box could have been so screwed up just confounds me. (Actually, it doesn't. It speaks to the need for strong management.)

Still, with all the history, I enjoyed my time there and most of the people I worked with. With a few discrete management and engineering changes, they could still make it. The basic HW premise of the box is sound. They just need software and management talent to take it the rest of the way.
vomonquan
vomonquan
12/4/2012 | 8:12:38 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon
Startups are like sprinters. Losing momentum even for a fraction of a second is fatal. With such much baggage ( past mistakes and history) the odds are against them to get to the finishing line. IF they had brought out the system a year earlier, their success would be guarantted. This gives Ciena ample time to catch up and extend their lead. ALso a lot more options are available today at a fraction of the cost: monster switch fabric chip sets.
Last but not least, there is a gaping hole in their management: lack of technically strong leadership (in Sonet/Optical field), and no CTO nor VP of Architecture.
sntwk
sntwk
12/4/2012 | 8:12:36 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon
Yes. It is really a simple box and its biggest plus point is 'simplicity' but they had lots of inexperienced senior people to compensate for the simplicity and in the end make the process of building the box a complex one!

a number of people who have never built Telecom switches and systems. Their ex-CTO was a good guy though. But poor man he picked wrong founding CEO partner. He definitely deserves something out of this. There was a rumour tha he was not interested in building systems but build fabric and sell to OEMs. Probably that could have worked.

However I think it is an architecture that should find its way into networks. There is lot of opportunity for such architecture to be useful beyond its current grooming capabilities.


Picking on the company for diluting stock options is cheap talk. What if the company closed! Would you have complained?. How many companies have not closed.


What is important is that Ciena with traditional architecture is winning contracts and a new player with innovative approach (no longer innovative , it was in sept 1999). However the chip works and I don't know how many other company's claims are true but BrightLink's story is real and I wish it gets some contracts.

They could have sold the chip alone or the core around the same time as Velio announced last year to vendors to build all kinds of switches and potentially got some royalties etc. This is just one suggestion , lots of things could have been possible other than dragging this far.
vomonquan
vomonquan
12/4/2012 | 8:12:25 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon
I can't hardly disagree. I wish with all my heart that BrightLink will be a success story. A lot of hard work and dream have been put into this. And i was mesmerized by their architecture when I first knew it. However a lot of big players had come in and out to look at their system, even tore it down to component level to analyze it and they all turned their back. We can speculate that not all of them are dummies in their field: some delegations were large and packed with engineers! So they may know something that many ( including myself) didn't know. Granted that the market has been cool to acquisition. But for a good price for a good architecture, it's hard to pass it over. Oh well, time will surely reveals it all.

Peter Heywood
Peter Heywood
12/4/2012 | 8:12:23 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon
http://www.lightreading.com/do...

trends
trends
12/4/2012 | 8:11:52 PM
re: BrightLink Brings Home the Bacon
In total fairness, they had a number of very experienced senior people too. They, however, were not allowed to contribute. Not for their lack of trying, mind you, but for management's inability to delegate and include.

It is true that the original concept of the company was to just build the chipset. Rumor has it that the VCs directed it into the optical networking market. Still, the idea of selling just the chip was always an option. That was also part of the problem. There was never any hard plan for the company or product. It was all very loosely held with little accountability. (You can say that you are on plan all day long if you don't have one.)

Laying the company's troubles at the feet of the "inexperienced senior [technical] people" really misses the target. The sad fact is (though some might say an easy cheap shot) that the troubles were a textbook case of mismanagement.

I wish them luck. As I wrote, the HW concept is good. The tech certainly deserves to be flipped into the market. I suspect that somebody will wake-up and notice. Too bad about all the writedowns that are occuring now. That's bound to make potential partners overly cautious.
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