Opvista Switches on Cable
Opvista's MetroVista Ultra-Dense WDM technology increases channel capacity in a fiber by eight-fold for distances of up to 1,000 kilometers with no regeneration nor dispersion compensation necessary, according to the company. The company sells its MetroVista 200 as a larger metro transport box and the MetroVista 100 for use at customer premises.
"The architecture of the products, although designed primarily for the metro telephone market, has an application in the emerging video-on-demand part of cable television," says Opvista CEO Gary Trimm.
Opvista just hired Trimm last week to relieve Winston I. Way, the company's chief technology officer who had been holding the CEO post on an interim basis. For the past four years, Trimm has been a consultant in the cable business. Prior to that he was president and CEO of Compression Labs Inc. of San Jose, Calif. Previously, Trimm had been president of the subscriber systems and the North American divisions of Scientific-Atlanta Inc. (NYSE: SFA), where he held senior management positions since 1988.
Trimm says Opvista has raised $28 million from Sevin Rosen Funds, U.S. Trust, and Incubic LLC. Its board members include Milton Chang, Sevin Rosen's Steve Domenik, and Gwong Lee, the senior director of sales strategy and planning for Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) worldwide technical operations group (see Chang's Investment Shop). The company was first funded by outside investors in November 2000, according to Venture Economics.
Opvista sees its opportunity in helping cable operators add capacity to the large rings that connect their systems' main head ends in a given city with all of the local head ends throughout the area. Those rings need more capacity as cable companies begin to offer telephony, video conferencing, and other business services that require loads more two-way data exchange between users and the network (see Openwave Adds Brass and Cable Networks: A Primer).
Several other companies already have laid claim to this market, including Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Internet Photonics Inc., and Sorrento Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: FIBR), all of which are better staffed, better funded, and have been operating longer than Opvista.
But the cable market is, at least, less turbulent overall than the business of selling to telecom service providers. And, of course, Opvista isn't the first company to make that observation. Companies such as Convergent Networks Inc., Ellacoya Networks Inc., and Optinel Systems have all cruised from the telecom space to the cable market recently (see Startup Renaissance in Cable Market and Is Ellacoya on the Comeback Trail?).
The change may do Opvista some good. The company lost a contract with NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY) in mid 2002, a deal that could have netted the company more investment dollars, according to a report in the Orange County Business Journal.
It has also resized its staff as it's changed markets. Trimm says the company peaked at around 40 employees but has cut back to 23.
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading