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Headcount: Shooting StarsHeadcount: Shooting Stars

Capellas takes charge at WorldCom, Extreme rotates managers, and Sycamore cuts some more

November 18, 2002

5 Min Read
Headcount: Shooting Stars

This evening, courtesy of the Leonid meteor storm, we'll watch for shooting stars in the night sky. On the ground, however, telecom companies are seeking stars, too, prompting Headcount to wonder: Is it better to burn out or fade away?

Don't think about that too long. It's time to review some of the past week's most interesting hirings and firings:

  • Late last week WorldCom Inc. (OTC: WCOEQ) officially introduced former Compaq Computer chief Michael D. Capellas as its new chairman and CEO (see WorldCom Appoints Capellas). And now it is being reported that one of WorldCom's largest creditors is taking steps to install former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as the company's chairman.

    Headcount knows Giuliani can maintain a cool head while presiding over great tragedies, but wonders if Capellas has the intestinal fortitude to stitch all the muddy fiefdoms that make up WorldCom together and make them appear to work as a cohesive unit. Of course, neither Giuliani nor Capellas has a telecom background, so they've at least passed the smell test.

  • Pssst! Hey! Know anyone who'd make a good Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman? We hear they're hiring over there (see WorldCom, Chertoff, and the SEC, Oh My!). It's probably a stressful job, though. Can you imagine having to work at reversing the type of clueless corporate governance that the President and Vice President pretty much perfected while in the private sector?

    And now, Headcount presents this week's "I'm Super. Thanks for Asking (ISTFA) Awards," the prize we give to the companies accused of downsizing who, when called, shrug and say they don't see what all the fuss is about. This week there's a tie for first place:

  • Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) is said to be draining brains at several levels in the past few months, according to Headcount sources. Headcount has confirmed that John Carvell, director of investor relations; Ray Milhem, senior director of product management; Allan Miller, vice president of worldwide manufacturing operations; Sam Halabi, VP of IP carrier business development; Paul De Zan, VP of corporate marketing; and A.L. "Skip" Wangbickler, VP of customer advocacy, have all left Extreme.

    The cutbacks are old news, says Extreme spokeswoman Valerie Bellofatto. During its most recent earnings call, Extreme noted it was cutting its staff from about 1,000 to about 900, Bellofatto says, and has recently added some very seasoned executives in operations, marketing, and software development. "I have to sort of chuckle here... This is all public information," says Bellofatto, when Headcount inquired about the company's staff size and management changes. Headcount is reassured when a company is so comfortable with its destiny that it sort of chuckles when asked about management attrition.

  • Extreme shares the ISTFA trophy with Coriolis Networks Inc.. One wacky source went so far as to suggest that Coriolis had shut its doors this week and not just as closing time, either. Coriolis VP of Marketing Greg Wortman says the speculation is likely coming from a disgruntled former worker. The company has added some and subtracted some, he says, but maintains around 100 employees.

    Coriolis, unfortunately, has been the subject of new rumor each week, most of them bogus. That's why Headcount must now insist that all new Coriolis rumors must be signed and approved by Mr. Wortman.

  • Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) says it has 414 employees now, down 31 employees since it reported earnings in late August.

  • Network Photonics Inc. acknowledged it cut about 25 jobs in late October. This brings the company's headcount to about 75.

  • Headcount isn't sure if Yafo Networks is closed, but recent speculation has it that the company is being fitted for a pine box. We called David Korotkin, the company's VP of finance, but he said he couldn't comment right now. We may be wrong here, but when the VP of finance doesn't come right out and deny something as significant as a company shutdown, Headcount reasonably assumes The Reaper is in the company's waiting room, flipping through an old issue of Fast Company.

  • Atrica Inc. isn't laying people off, but it has fewer employees than it once did. "I wouldn't really say this was a layoff," says Nan Chen, Atrica's director of product marketing. "We're realigning our resources behind our goals, which are to acquire new customers. We're letting go people who aren't necessarily needed as we move forward."

  • OMM Inc. recently cut 36 percent of its staff. It now employs 87 people down from the more than 400 it employed at the beginning of 2001 (see China's ZTE Goes All-Optical).

  • Gluon Networks Inc. has cut 16 jobs, leaving it with 101 employees, according to a recent report in The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, Calif. Headcounts stands by (idly reading) their story.

    Here's a summary of other industry appointments (and disappointments) from the past several days:

  • Proficient Appoints New CEO

  • Qwest Hires Rich Baer

  • DT Appoints New CEO

  • PMC-Sierra's CFO Is a Krock

  • Nortel Shuffles Sales Execs

  • BT Names Chief Broadband Officer

  • Broadcom Names Interim COO

  • Sprint Cuts Costs and Jobs

  • Legerity Restructures, Lays OffHopefully we've cleared up the week's activities. But if we missed anything or if something's still cloudy, send a tip to [email protected]. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the shooting stars this evening. And we don't mean the "E! True Hollywood Story" on Robert Blake, either.

    — Phil Harvey and Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editors, Light Reading

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