General Bandwidth Drafts New CEO

Charlie Vogt, known for his Taqua turnaround, has taken top job at General Bandwidth

September 20, 2004

3 Min Read
General Bandwidth Drafts New CEO

VOIP equipment maker General Bandwidth Inc. (GB) has recruited Charlie Vogt, the executive who dragged Taqua out of stagnation and into liquidity, as its new CEO, Light Reading has learned. Brendon Mills, the company's founding CEO, is leaving the company and stepping down from its board of directors.

Vogt's arrival at GB is just another in a series of good things happening to the vendor since the company leaned on Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) for a life-saving investment and much-needed market support (see Alcatel Reins In General Bandwidth). At the very least, the arrival of a new CEO is proof that the company's investors still believe in GB's prospects for steady growth and, eventually, profitability -- despite its rickety past.

Up until recently, GB was a struggling, single-product company that had burned through tens of millions in venture capital and was having trouble raising money. Lately, though, the company has landed some noteworthy customers, Alcatel's backing, and some high praise from industry analysts.

SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW) is one of the customers GB has landed and the carrier has made its media gateway a part of its triple-play offering. "The G6 converts traffic from a Lucent 5ESS into IP at the central office," says Carl Murray, Strategic Technologies Manager at SureWest.

Murray says the GB platform connects to a Cisco Systems Catalyst routing platform where video and Internet traffic is added. At the customer premise IP voice is converted to plain old telephone service (POTS) by an Allied Telesyn RG656 IAD.

That sales success helps show that the product is ready to be deployed by telecom carriers in an environment in which more and more of them are looking for IP-based voice platforms.

"General Bandwidth's G6 Network Media Gateway earned top honors in our ranking thanks to its excellent high-end scaleability, including trunk density, its wide range of control protocols and codecs, and its above-average switching and QOS capabilities," writes Heavy Reading analyst Graham Beniston in his recent report, "VOIP: A Comprehensive Competitive Analysis of Media Gateways."

With the product ready to sell, it makes sense that the company has tapped Vogt to dress the company up and possibly find a large partner, as well as a buyer.

In a conversation with Light Reading on Friday, Vogt said his priorities are to help GB add to its product portfolio, grow its sales, and start forging partnerships with vendors in the carrier and cable equipment space.

Though Alcatel has a large interest in GB, Vogt says there are other partnerships that make sense. "If I thought this job was just going to be a 12-month Alcatel spin-in, I wouldn't have taken it," Vogt says. He adds that GB may even make some acquisitions down the road as it looks to expand to complementary technology areas.

"This is a complete company that has just been on the unfortunate side of the market," Vogt states. "I think now the opportunity is really about exponentially growing the top line [revenues]," he says. "And I'm an exponential top line guy."

Prior to Taqua, Vogt held executive posts at Santera Systems, another switchmaker that was, like Taqua, purchased by Tekelec Inc. (Nasdaq: TKLC). He also held senior management positions at Accelerated Networks (now Occam Networks Inc.), Ascend Communications (now Lucent), Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM).

Vogt's two-year stint at switchmaker Taqua was probably the most remarkable. Under his watch, the company grew its product line to include switches for remote offices and smaller central offices. The plan helped grow Taqua's customer count from 15 to more than 110, before it was acquired by Tekelec in April 2004 (see Tekelec Is Buying Taqua and Taqua Buy Comes Into Focus).

And Tekelec took notice of Vogt. In April, the company made him president of global marketing and sales operations for North America and the Central/Latin America region. But Vogt wanted to be the boss and now he's landed at just the kind of place that will test his turnaround expertise.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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