Cable Tech

BigBand Wants to Speed Up the Tempo

A bunch of changes up top at BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND) might look like a recipe for disruption at the digital video specialist, but CEO Amir Bassan-Eskenazi insists the moves will help BigBand innovate faster and become more in tune with the needs of customers who are shifting to more on-demand and IP-based video delivery technologies.

"Our challenge as a company is how to address these new [video service] definitions and to be nimble, agile, and rapid in bringing new innovation to the market," Bassan-Eskenazi says. "This move, if it's about anything, is about being able to preserve and enhance that in view of the opportunity in front of us."

Last week, BigBand announced chief operating officer David Heard and VP of worldwide sales Sean Rooney had resigned and will be leaving the company later this year. Bassan-Eskenazi is still running things as CEO but is giving up the chairman title. Mike Pohl is stepping in as non-executive board chairman. (See BigChanges at BigBand .)

In a separate announcement made Friday, BigBand revealed that it's changing chief financial officers. Ravi Narula, currently BigBand's VP of finance and worldwide controller, is set to replace Moe Castonguay, who is leaving on May 1. (See BigBand Changes Out CFOs.)

Castonguay joined BigBand in 2008 following posts with several companies that had been acquired, including Acopia Networks (now part of F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV)) and Broadbus Technologies (now part of Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)).

Castonguay came on board amid speculation that BigBand could be seeking a buyer, so his departure suggests that the company will likely remain independent for the foreseeable future, according to Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. analyst Simon Leopold. The reduction in management layers is also a sign that BigBand may be content operating at its present size, he adds. (See BigBand Hires 'Moe' as CFO, BigBand for Sale?, and BigBand OKs 'Change of Control' Exec Packages .)

Still, that stance might not prevent BigBand from making some relatively small asset acquisitions. Such speculation heated up last year when BigBand hired Rajive Dhar, the former senior VP of M&A at Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS). However, BigBand has yet to make any M&A moves since appointing Dhar to the post of SVP of corporate development and strategic planning. (See BigBand Acquires Arris's M&A Guy .)

Bassan-Eskenazi acknowledged that the moves will make BigBand "a bit flatter and more organized... but that's so we get closer to the customer and can be even more responsive and be more innovative. We thought this kind of change would make us more effective in doing that."

Likewise, Bassan-Eskenazi believes the changes will free him up to become more involved in the day-to-day operations, as it removes two layers between himself and BigBand's customers and prospects.

Some believe that such a change will be necessary if BigBand is to remain a factor as MSOs and telcos continue to evolve their networks and service portfolios.

Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband and video at Infonetics Research Inc. , says BigBand has done a good job of locking up the edge QAM market for switched digital video (SDV), but notes that other suppliers will be challenging for that market share. On top of that, he says BigBand needs to formulate a strategy to push sales of new products like the Media Services Platform (MSP) 2000 or develop video-on-demand (VoD) edge devices and other gear that can fit into the broader edge QAM ecosystem. (See BigBand Plays It Personal .)

"From a product and customer base perspective, I think it's pretty clear BigBand has to execute by moving beyond edge QAMs for SDV," Heynen notes, adding that his concern is where BigBand will find solid growth now that Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s deployment of SDV nears completion. "I have to think that getting that [growth] pipeline back into shape is priority one for them," he adds.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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