Qwest Drafts Former Sorrento COO

Oren Shaffer, who briefly served as Sorrento's president and COO, is the new CFO at Qwest

July 9, 2002

2 Min Read
Qwest Drafts Former Sorrento COO

It looks like Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) has gotten down to the task of turning over a new management leaf... by hiring a former executive of Sorrento Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: FIBR).

Oren Shaffer, the former president and chief operating officer of Sorrento, has taken over as Qwest's chief financial officer (see Qwest Makes Changes). Shaffer's hiring was one of several executive changes announced by Qwest on Sunday morning.

Shaffer, who was touted as the man who would restore credibility to Sorrento, worked for the company only seven months before leaving. He has yet to publicly talk about his tenure there from March to September 2000 and could not be reached for comment today. Qwest tried to downplay his stint there, mentioning it only in the 13th paragraph of Qwest's announcement.

Sorrento was once an optical networking cult stock that traded as high as $140 per share. Much later, it was touted by tech investment guru George Gilder (see Sorrento Rides a Gilded Wave). At one time, the company had a market capitalization of $2B, whereas today it is valued at $10M. As of today, the stock was trading at $0.71, down 0.01 (1.39%).

Shaffer wasn't the only Sorrento CEO to see a quick exit. The company has seen a tumultuous couple of years, during which it's been managed by the revolving-door approach. Former Nextel executive Jim Dixon served as Sorrento's president and COO after Shaffer, but he lasted only from October 2000 to October 2001. Sorrento founder Xin Cheng, who also held the titles of chairman and CEO, left the company in March 2002 (see Cheng Out at Sorrento).

Prior to his stint at Sorrento, Shaffer was a consultant for SBC Communications Inc. from January to March 2000. Before that, he had been CFO at Ameritech (now part of SBC) for six years and had a 25-year career at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

Shaffer replaces Robin R. Szeliga, who will stay with Qwest as an executive vice president, helping the company focus on reducing its debt.

Qwest also hired Joan H. Walker as its senior VP of corporate communications and Gary R. Lytle as vice president of policy and law. Walker replaces Michael P. Tarpey, who has retired. Lytle replaces Lauren "Pete" Belvin, who will serve as a consultant to Qwest.

Those leaving Qwest include James A. Smith, executive vice president for national consumer markets; Shaun P. Gilmore, executive vice president for global accounts; and Ross Lau, president, Qwest Asia.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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