Brightlink Shuffles Top Management

BrightLink drops its datacom-friendly CEO and adds a new telco-savvy chairman. Is it putting on its telco happy face?

May 4, 2001

2 Min Read
Brightlink Shuffles Top Management

This week BrightLink Networks Inc. announced that Harry Quackenboss, its chairman and CEO, has resigned. Taking his place for the time being is Paul Schaller, a founding board member. More telling, though, is that Dick Liebhaber, a former MCI (now WorldCom Inc. [Nasdaq: WCOM]) executive who’s also on Qwest Communications International Corp.'s (NYSE: Q) board, has agreed to be BrightLink’s chairman (see Quackenboss Quits ).

BrightLink wouldn’t comment on why Quackenboss was resigning or whether the firm’s board demanded his resignation. Its board members -- including Warren Packard of Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Doug Carlisle of Menlo Ventures -- didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Light Reading couldn’t reach Quackenboss for comment via email and executives at BrightLink (ridiculously) said they didn’t have any way of reaching him.

Scott Clavenna, president of PointEast Research LLC and director of research at Light Reading, figures Quackenboss’s ouster was because his background didn’t jibe with the firms with which BrightLink needs the most influence. Quackenboss is a dyed-in-the-wool data-networking guy with names like Cisco and Crescendo on his resume. BrightLink, however, is trying to sell to telecommunications service providers.

BrightLink’s product, the BOSS 1000 optical switch, is designed to site at the core of carrier transport networks and can grow from 16 to 1024 ports of OC48 without a forklift upgrade. “The intellectual property for BrightLink’s switch was inspired by the data networking world, but the main market for their product is in Sonet grooming and switching,” Clavenna says.

Now it's crunch time for BrightLink. The company has $78 million in total funding, but its last announced funding round came more than a year ago. It recently cut 27 percent of its staff and closed an 18,500 square-foot facility in Texas (see BrightLink Slims Down).

As the company prepares to go head-to-head with vendors such as Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR), which already have relationships with big carriers, it obviously felt it needed to put on a face that showed it was serious about the service provider market (see BrightLink's Prospects Brighten ).

“Harry’s a good guy and BrightLink has a good product, but their progress has been hampered on a few fronts,” Clavenna says. “They’ve had a hard time raising money, and investors might have been worried that Harry wasn’t of the right pedigree to attract the kind of talent, pocketbooks, and customers BrightLink needs.”

-- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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