The Light Reading Hall of Fame: The 2018 Inductees

Now more than ever, our latest Hall of Fame inductees are changing every part of this industry, from the core infrastructure to the services in the cloud.

Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief

May 23, 2018

7 Min Read
The Light Reading Hall of Fame: The 2018 Inductees

The Light Reading Hall of Fame recognizes those individuals, both the famous and the infamous, who have made a notable contribution to the global communications sector.

From its origination in 2010, this annual list celebrates individuals whose contributions have shaped the modern communications industry, or whose impact just cannot be ignored.

This year's list, announced for the first time at the 2018 Leading Lights Awards in Austin, Texas last week, is no different. We have five inductees, and they're changing every part of this industry, from the core infrastructure to the services in the cloud.

What follows is the official Hall of Fame video, debuted during the Leading Lights Awards, as well as the write-ups detailing who made it in -- and why. For the complete list of previous Hall of Fame inductees, check out Light Recap: The Light Reading Hall of Fame.

Basil Alwan, President of IP/Optical Networks, Nokia
In May 2003, Alcatel paid $150 million in stock for an edge routing startup called TiMetra. The company was touting a new product concept -- the service edge router -- but it had no announced customers.

Alcatel struck gold twice -- it got a solid product and an even better executive leader in TiMetra's founder and CEO, Basil Alwan. From its entry into the service provider router business with the TiMetra purchase, Alcatel (and later, Alcatel-Lucent) went on a tear, gaining market share consistently over the next decade and amassing more than 400 customers in more than 120 countries around the world, not to mention billions of dollars in revenue.

While most startup CEOs would have gone back to Silicon Valley to open a yoga studio or an alpaca farm or some other insufferable thing, Alwan stayed the course as one of the most consistent executive leaders Light Reading has ever covered. In January 2016 Nokia named Alwan as one of its top managers, making him President of the company's IP and Optical Networks group.

In the past, Alwan was nominated for the HoF, but he didn't quite make it. We're fixing that now and wishing him well on another two-plus decades of changing the IP networking world as we know it.

Basil sent us an acceptance speech. Check it out:

Diane Greene, CEO, Google Cloud
Diane Greene wasn't even supposed to be in this industry, but it wouldn't be the industry it is now without her. She wanted to work on offshore oil rigs, but women weren't allowed to do that back in the 70s, so she went back to school to study computer science.

Greene and her husband, Mendel Rosenblum, founded VMware Inc. based on research he'd done on virtualization. VMware grew more than 100% every year she was there as CEO, from 1998-2004. The company was going to go public in 2003 but was instead acquired by EMC Corp. for $635 million.

In an interview with Greene last year, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said Greene's run at VMware was historic: "It's probably one of the most successful stories in the software industry, and I don't think there's been a more successful female CEO."

Now, as the leader of Google's fastest-growing business, Google Cloud, Greene is in a position to deliver the entire IT stack to the world's biggest companies. Greene transformed enterprise computing once before, and now she's the catalyst to do it all over again.

John Legere, CEO, T-Mobile USA
One measure of the people in Light Reading's Hall of Fame is how much stuff they've invented, created, started and originated. John Legere is being inducted because of all the stuff he's gotten rid of -- long-term cellular contracts, global roaming fees, data caps, absurd charges for watching Netflix on your mobile device -- we could go on and on. The bottom line is that Legere has saved T-Mobile's bottom line, in part, by not acting like a telecom CEO.

He takes questions from customers while he's jogging. He talks directly to customers on social media. He actually visits call centers in person and listens to customers. He shares his slow cooker recipes with customers and, we'll admit, they're pretty damn good.

Sure, with all of his magenta merchandise, he looks like a roadie for a touring children's band. But that desire to have a logo on every square inch of his person is another example of Legere doing what other CEOs won't do -- he goes all in on marketing. He believes in what T-Mobile is doing and literally wears it on his sleeve.

Now, Legere is going to try and persuade regulators to allow T-Mobile's nearly $26.5 billion acquisition of Sprint. They've stopped the deal before. But this time around, he's focusing on helping the US win the race in 5G technology and, by extension, ensuring that next wave of tech innovation happens in the good 'ol U S of A.

Once again, as he did with price wars, good customer service and mobile video use, Legere is leading the other phone companies by calling them out and making them uncomfortable. He wants the Sprint merger so he can win in 5G and make it affordable for customers. That doesn't sound like a big phone company CEO at all. That DOES sound like a man who belongs in the Light Reading Hall of Fame.

Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
Satya Nadella is only the third CEO in Microsoft's history, but we think he'll be the one who truly changed the culture of a software giant that had gone stale. The company's previous strategy -- anchored around devices and services that really only work well when they're running Windows.

The Microsoft under Nadella isn't stuck in that rut: "The core purpose of our company is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more," Nadella told developers at the company's Ignite conference last year.

In March, Nadella overhauled the company to focus on AI and cloud computing a management realignment that solidified how serious Microsoft has become about being a cloud and collaboration company.

For the first time ever, Microsoft feels like a company that can build new products and services that have nothing at all to do with a PC or its still-dominant operating system. And, though initially caught off guard by the cloud, Nadella has led Microsoft to invest heavily in its capabilities, using every advantage it has with enterprise software and personal computing to make its cloud experience different than Amazon's.

Since 2014, Microsoft's market cap has more than doubled -- it's well over $600 billion now and frequently sits above $700 billion depending on the week. The only way to get a company that large to change course and grow again is to have a leader who will make tough decisions and won't hesitate to hit reset.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder & CEO, Facebook
Make no mistake about it, Facebook has changed how people are connected and how we communicate with one another. As a company, it has also repeatedly broken its promises to its users about the privacy and security of their personal data. In the eye of the storm is Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO, who doesn't mind if his industry is regulated, didn't anticipate the use of his platform for massive propaganda campaigns aimed at upending elections, and isn't necessarily going to do anything differently, save the occasional apology tour to keep investors from jumping ship.

The Telecom Infra Project (TI) could only have come from Facebook. When an industry was moving too slow to satisfy its voracious growth, Facebook needed to forge relationships with network operators instead of going around them. Facebook's need to keep more users connected for more hours of every day, means it will only keep growing if it can connect the unconnected, and for that ambitious goal, it needs to be more coordinated and more aligned with the industry's goals and worries.

Mark Zuckerberg is both a hero and a villain, the perfect inductee for the Light Reading Hall of Fame. He's going to continue to bring us services we could previously have never imagined at little or no cost, on every device, on just about any kind of bandwidth. His company is fulfilling the promises that the communications industry made decades ago. All its going to cost us is our identities.

— Phil Harvey, US News Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

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