October 23, 2000
PLANO, Texas -- Someone in Telecom Corridor is trying to let the air out of Brightlink Networks Inc.'s recruiting efforts here.
Between 11:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 19, and 6:00 a.m. on Friday, October 20, the ropes used to anchor a sedan-sized blimp to BrightLink's office on Plano Parkway were cut clean. The blimp was then either stolen or set free to float across the Texas prairie.
"Whoever did this obviously cased the place and knew when people had left for the evening," says Jon Currie, a senior product line manager for BrightLink.
Currie says he suspects his firm's marketplace rival Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is responsible for the blimp incident. BrightLink doesn't have any direct knowledge that Cisco was involved, but Currie reckons that Cisco had a motive because its products compete with BrightLink's optical switch and Cisco has a massive facility on Jupiter Road, just across President George Bush freeway, less than a quarter mile from BrightLink’s office (see Brightlink: My Switch Is Bigger Than Yours). "Well, they are a competitor and they're right across the street," he says.
Officials from Cisco Systems have not responded to requests for comment.
According to a Plano Police Department report on the incident obtained by Light Reading, the complainant, listed in the report as “Bright Blink Networks,” claims that the blimp was worth $600. Describing the blimp as white with blue letters, the report states: “Blimp was stolen."
Police department sources won’t say whether a detective has been assigned to investigate the incident, or speculate as to what the possible punishment would be if the blimp bandits are found out.
A clerk in the police department records office expressed surprise that a report had been typed up less than a day after the incident, which was phoned in to police by BrightLink employee Sarena Miller. “The first reports they usually type up are murders, suicides, and stuff like that,” the bemused clerk said.
BrightLink’s Currie says he’s sure the three ropes and electrical cord that tethered the blimp to the nondescript one-story office building were cut and that the blimp wasn’t set free by wind gusts.
In the hypercompetitive world of telecommunications, engineering talent is scarce and tensions run high when companies go to extravagant means to lure away key personnel from nearby firms (see Cisco's Other Expansion Strategy). As tension among competitors increases in these telecom turf wars, gargantuan signage and trade-show mascots seem to be increasingly at risk (see Ciena Mascot Assaulted at NFOEC).
The blimp disappeared a week before BrightLink’s Open House event was scheduled to take place. BrightLink officials say the recruitment event is still on track to run from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 26. Though the blimp was quite the attention-getter in BrightLink’s drab office park surroundings, BrightLink had also advertised the event in local newspapers, and they expect a good turnout regardless (see HR Ignorance Imperils Startups).
BrightLink opened its first Texas office in March with only 3 employees in a 3,000-square-foot space in Renner Plaza. The company’s Plano Parkway office now has 25 employees, a number it expects to double by year’s end.
Even in the face of the BrightLink blimp’s sudden disappearance, BrightLink officials say employee morale isn’t deflated and there’s no need for visitors to worry about being exposed to more mischief during the firm’s upcoming Open House. “We will have hired security at the Open House to alleviate any potential problems,” Currie says.
-- Phil Harvey, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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