BrightLink Slims Down

Brightlink Networks Inc. said today that it is cutting 27 percent of its workforce in order to trim expenses amidst the sour economy.

The company won’t say specifically how many jobs it is eliminating. However, given its previous claim of more than 200 employees, BrightLink may have let go 55 to 70 people.

BrightLink began operation in 1998 and has built an optical switch that it says can groom any number of STS1s and could scale to a larger size than Ciena Corp.'s (Nasdaq: CIEN) CoreDirector (see Brightlink Works on Its Grooming).

The job cuts affected some members of BrightLink’s executive staff, according to Gary Law, BrightLink’s marketing boss. Law wouldn’t say which executives were cut.

It is known, however, that several of BrightLink's top managers moved on well before the firm began drastically cutting costs. For instance, Robert Lipp, previously BrightLink’s vice president of technology, and Philip Hughes, BrightLink’s former vice president of product management, are no longer with the firm. Also, John Clary, BrightLink’s former operations boss, left about a month ago.

In addition to layoffs, BrightLink is shuttering its 18,500 square-foot Texas development center, which only opened late last summer.

In March, BrightLink announced it had moved into larger offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., and had grown to more than 200 employees in its Sunnyvale, Philadelphia, and Plano, Texas, locations. A short time later, the company was shifting all of its operations, with the exception of a few sales people, out of Texas and back to its corporate headquarters.

Last summer, the company predicted its Texas office would have 50 people by year's end. It never reached that goal, even after some silly recruiting antics (see Bye-Bye BrightLink Blimp).

The original plan, says Law, was to have two engineering units doing parallel development for both the long haul and metro space. That idea fizzled as BrightLink unsuccessfully sought to close a funding round late last year.

BrightLink has more than $78 million in funding; its backers include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Goldman Sachs & Co. (NYSE: GS), Menlo Ventures, and the Sprout Group. Though its last funding round occurred in April 2000, Law says its investors have agreed to keep the company flush with cash until it can secure a formal funding round.

“We’re very fortunate to have a product that’s still in demand and a group of investors that are sticking with us,” Law says.

The chances of getting some fresh funding, Law says, will improve greatly once BrightLink enters product trials with customers, which it will do in May. In addition, the company is about to trot out on a press tour promoting its product’s capabilities and its customer trials.

Of course, BrightLink isn’t the only telecom startup pulling back from the Richardson, Texas, area. Jasmine Networks has cut several area jobs; Ennovate Networks has shelved its local expansion; and Richardson’s Startech Early Ventures reworked its business model partly so that it could curb expenses by seeking other funding sources for its entrepreneur education programs (see Is the Bloom off Jasmine?, Ennovate Enervates Texas Expansion, and Startech Reorganizes for Tough Times).

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
John Clary 12/4/2012 | 8:36:54 PM
re: BrightLink Slims Down Mr. Harvey

I would like to clarify that I left BrightLink Networks, as VP of Operations over a month ago on positive terms and for very clear, personal reasons, which my peers understood. I, in no way, was associated with the actions taken today.

John Clary
DCITDave 12/4/2012 | 8:36:53 PM
re: BrightLink Slims Down Hi John:

Thanks for the bringing that to my attention. I've updated the article accordingly.

BTW -- What are you up to these days? (Answer that via e-mail, if you'd prefer.)

[email protected]
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