Q&A: Gainspeed's New CEO Rides IP Wave

Gainspeed has a new CEO at the helm, and he's been given the task of helping cable companies attack a problem he defines as "huge and painful."

Co-founder and former CEO Drew Perkins has announced he is shifting into an advisory role at the network infrastructure company and handing the leadership position over to "seasoned Silicon Valley technology executive" Krishnan Padmanabhan. Padmanabhan was most recently at Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), where he held the title of senior vice president for more than two years. Prior to Harmonic, the technology veteran served as vice president and general manager at NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP).

Gainspeed has made waves with new technology that distributes many functions that traditionally reside in a cable headend down into a network node. Since the company arrived on the scene in 2013, several other cable vendors have followed Gainspeed’s lead and have begun introducing their own strategies for moving toward more distributed cable architectures.

While news of Padmanabhan's appointment was officially shared this morning, Light Reading sat down for an interview with the new CEO last week to talk about Gainspeed 's success and where the company is headed next (and how it's tackling that aforementioned huge, painful problem). (See Gainspeed, Avegant Share CableLabs Top Honors, Salinger Draws Comcast CCAP Roadmap and Gainspeed Gains Fresh Funding.)

Gainspeed CEO Krishnan Padmanabhan

For more on the cable infrastructure market, check out our dedicated CCAP content channel here on Light Reading.

Excerpts from the interview are included below, with edits made for brevity and clarity.

Light Reading: What made you interested in joining a company focused on cable access architectures?

Padmanabhan: Cable companies are running up against a wall, and they need to do something dramatically different if they're going to take the next wave of IP coming into people's homes. I think what attracted me was that the problem is huge, and painful, and something that the MSOs are going to have to act on. Gainspeed had a really innovative way to tackle that problem that I believe is genuinely groundbreaking.

Light Reading: Gainspeed has gained a lot of apparent traction very quickly and quietly over the last year. What do you attribute that success to, and how do you plan to build on it?

Padmanabhan: When a business problem is challenging enough, as is the explosive growth in IP bandwidth requirements for MSOs, you are open to new ideas. I think fundamentally the reason Gainspeed is getting attention is because the founders of the company re-imagined what the access part of the network could look like in a very different way and saw that the kind of technology that could miniaturize and distribute intelligence -- which was not possible until recently -- is now becoming possible, and that the benefits of that are just huge.

A lot of the feedback, it's gone from "you guys are crazy people re-imagining that networks are going to distribute intelligence that was in the headend out to the node"… it's gone from "you are the rebel to now your ideas are mainstream," and the question is how and when will this get implemented and in what way. And I think that's a real credit to how much, with a small team, we have communicated across the key thought leaders in the MSOs.

Next page: Challenges, strategy and more

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