Photuris Gets New CEO and $40M

Metro equipment startup says it is making inroads with ILECs and will book revenues late this year

February 24, 2003

3 Min Read
Photuris Gets New CEO and $40M

Things they are a-changin' at Photuris.

This week the optical equipment startup will announce it has hired former Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) marketing executive Charles Childers as its new CEO. The company has also filled its VP of sales slot, a position that had been open since summer of 2002, when Pat Rockford left to join White Rock Networks.

Photuris's previous CEO, Mike Pisterzi, left last month. Pisterzi was formerly CEO of AccessLAN, which was sold to Advanced Fibre Communications Inc. (AFC) (Nasdaq: AFCI).

Thrown in with the management changes is news that Photuris closed a Series C financing of $40 million. The round, first reported by Light Reading in September 2002, closed the following December (see Photuris Metro Box May Draw $40M). The most recent financing means Photuris has raised about $105 million during its three-year history.

In addition to the funding, Photuris says it has completed five lab trials with a set of cable multiple service operators (MSOs) and competitive local exchange carriers. In addition, the company says that two independent local exchange carriers have started putting its gear through trials.

Photuris's new VP of sales is Jim Lowrie. Lowrie joined from Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), where he landed as part of Alcatel's acquisition of Astral Point.

Childers previously served as CEO of Teleglobe (NYSE, Toronto: BCE), and, prior to that, he was chief marketing officer at Nortel Networks.

"It's a very tough market whether you're at Nortel, Teleglobe, or Photuris," Childers says. "The difference is that we can focus on building one thing and make it excellent."

The thing Photuris is building is a transport solution for metro rings that combines the functions of a Sonet add/drop multiplexer (ADM) with a DWDM transport box.

The box, the V32000 Optical Distribution System, has several things going for it. First, it combines two network elements in one, which saves space and energy. Also, it will be able to switch any wavelength to any port.

Photuris also boasts that its box can add and drop single wavelengths, versus having to add and drop several bands of wavelengths, as you do on older, fixed ADMs. But in order to assign bandwidth onto single wavelengths optically, that is, without optical-to-electrical conversions, it would require an operator to have several Photuris boxes on its metro ring.

Because of its many talents, Photuris competes with several established vendors, depending on the network it is trying to penetrate. The company competes with Sonet ADMs such as those sold by Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (FNC), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), as well as WDM boxes such as those sold by Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Nortel, and Lucent.

The startup intends to take on the big guys by pairing up with either another equipment vendor or a systems integrator. "We will be coming to market with a partner," promises Childers. "We are in discussions now."

Also, as do most startups, Photuris sees a spot for itself thanks to slowed research and development activities in the rest of the industry. "All of these large companies have cut back on R&D, and next-generation products aren't forthcoming in a lot of areas," says Childers.

Photuris is also fortunate in that, so far, its investors have backed the company consistently. The company's most recent financing round comprised money from Columbia Capital, Artiman Ventures, and Greylock, Childers says, the same lot that have been behind the company since day one.

With its product generally available and its headcount holding steady at around 100, Childers says Photuris is set to start filling orders and booking revenues in the second half of this year.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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