Headcount: Viva la Cinco de Mayo!

Procket, CopperCom, and others make cuts, while Pelago and Transparent sell their assets

May 5, 2003

5 Min Read
Headcount: Viva la Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! It was on this date in 1862 that the Mexicans overcame considerable odds and spicy breakfast foods to defeat the French at the Battle of Puebla. Today is officially a holiday in Mexico, but not in the U.S., which – who knows? -- might've been ripe for French occupation had the Mexicans lost.

Can you imagine the nation's Taco Bells recast as Snails-to-Go? Okay, we'll fess up. We were just looking for an excuse to bag work and spend the afternoon at el cantina, sipping tequilas and noshing on chorizo-filled sopes and making fun of the French. [Ed. note: Will you please shut up?]

Ah, OK. We'll raise a glass to our Mexican brethren (and sistern) a bit later. For now, let's have a peek at the ongoing battle to survive the telecom recession by glancing at this week's hirings, firings, and other employment news:

  • CopperCom Inc. has cut about 70 percent of its staff and has been in discussions with private investors since Friday, hoping to emerge with enough funding to keep its business afloat and out of the bankruptcy courts. “We are viewing this as a short-term situation from which we will emerge as a stronger and better capitalized company,” said CopperCom chief Mike Myers (not the Canadian comic), in a prepared statement sent to Headcount on Monday.

  • Sack'em Networks: Routing upstart Procket Networks Inc. has cut about 35 people, bringing its total headcount down to about 265. Spokesman Ben Gibson -- spouse of Cisco Systems Inc. PR maven Jeanette Gibson (can you imagine the dinnertime conversation in that house?) -- acknowledged the staff reductions but wouldn't confirm our sources' info on how many had been let go.

  • Still on Board: Several major newspapers showed pictures of former investment banker Frank Quattrone being led away by authorities a couple of weeks ago. But despite his potential as a cover boy for Perp Walk magazine, Quattrone, who was charged with obstruction of justice and witness tampering, is still in a position to give some companies guidance. Packet Design LLC and The Tech Museum of Innovation have acknowledged that Quattrone remains on their respective boards of directors.

  • CIR Says C-ya: Research firm Communications Industry Researchers Inc. is bowing out of the long-haul, switching, crossconnect, and metro core markets. "The reality is that there is nothing deserving analyst coverage in those spaces for the foreseeable future," writes Lawrence Gasman, CIR's president, while whistling "Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out)."

    "Our most recent forecasts for the metro space, for example, are frankly abysmal, and there was nothing worthwhile to say about long-haul or switching either," writes Gasman. Well, if you can’t say something nice...

    The analysts covering those areas -- Mark Lutkowitz and Sam Greenholtz, have amicably left and started their own analysis/consulting practice: Lutkowitz, Greenholtz, Schfvilkus, and Ganectabazoids. Okay, we're joshing. Actually, the new company is called Telecom Pragmatics Inc. Meanwhile, CIR will still be covering access and components and other, less ghastly areas.

  • Not Now Appearing at Supercomm 2003: Another star of past Supercomm shows has been sold for parts. Pelago Networks had its stuff auctioned off a few days ago. The startup had raised around $50 million in funding during its inception in 1999 (see Pelago Grabs $32M).

  • Speaking of auctions: Transparent Networks, which, rumor has it, specialized in being invisible to its customers, put all of its bits and pieces up for sale recently, including two patents (6533947 and 6480320) relating to microelectromechanical mirrors and mirror arrays. One venture capitalist guesstimates that the startup, which raised more than $30 million in funding, might only get back about $3 million for its stuff (see Transparent Lands $20M). Headcount checked to see if the big Vegas bookmakers were giving odds on this. They're not.

  • Fiber-to-the-home vendor Optical Solutions Inc. has cut 10 percent of its staff, leaving it with about 97 employees. The company was started in 1996 and has raised a total of $128 million since its inception.

  • Polaris Networks, which promoted itself heavily during its launch, is now being eerily quiet. The company's spokesfolks haven’t responded to numerous calls and emails, but, of course, it's hard to hear the phone when you're playing "Duck and Cover" like Bert the Turtle.

    Here's what our sources have been saying: Polaris cut 20 percent of its staff last week, taking its total headcount down to about 65 people. Rumor has it that founder Vu Nguyen has either left or, at the very least, relinquished his role as VP of engineering. This, if all true, can't be good for Polaris, which also may be reeling from a recent lab trial postponement at AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) (see AT&T Shelves Grooming Test). But at least the company is being guided by the steady hand of Surya Panditi, who did so well in steering his last company (Convergent Networks Inc.) into a new market that it can now almost fit in the same carpool when riding to work. Beep! Beep!

    It's almost time for a siesta. But before we go, here's a summary of other industry appointments (and disappointments) from the past several days:

    • GlobalX Rearranges Chairs

    • XO Hires GlobalX-er as CEO

    • Transparent Networks to Liquidate

    • Lucent Retirees Ask Questions

    • Infineon to Cut 900 Jobs

    • Alcatel Losses Down, Outlook Drab

    • Corvis Having a Rough Week

    • JDSU Reports $137M Q3 Loss

    • Chambers Attacks Accounting Plans

    And remember, if you can't say something nice... email [email protected]. Muchos gracias!

    — Phil Harvey and Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editors, Light Reading

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