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Catching Up

Craig Matsumoto

4:00 PM --

BOISE, Idaho -- I've spent the holidays in the Great Northwest. This gives me something in common with our own Governator Schwarzenegger, who was apparently in Sun Valley, Idaho, for a skiing vacation. Unlike Arnold, I didn't break a femur and require cable-and-screws surgery.

My vacation overlapped a surprisingly busy news week. Some scattered, ill-researched first impressions upon scanning the headlines:
  • Ericsson buying Redback. Like a lot of deals, this makes sense in hindsight. All that talk of a Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) deal was hobbled by concerns that Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) hadn't finished digesting Marconi yet. Redback Networks Inc. is another able IP play but comes with smaller scale. Maybe this could end up resembling the Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) purchase of TiMetra -- a standout Silicon Valley arm of a European giant.

    It's easy to agree with poll respondents in saying Juniper has the most to worry about here -- both as a customer and potential competitor. But the 7 percent (so far) who say it's Redback that should be worried -- they could be onto something. No offense to Ericsson, but tech mergers don't have an enviable track record. (Interesting that Ericsson wasn't listed as a choice there.)

  • AT&T's U-verse coming to San Jose. Only small pockets of the Bay Area are getting U-verse so far, but it's a faster start than I would have banked on.

    Nearly related anecdote: At the recent Cisco analyst day, a press lunch with chief development officer Charles Giancarlo turned into a bitch session about the state of U.S. broadband, as European and Asian press lamented the poor connectivity from their downtown San Jose hotel. Giancarlo got into it and noted that Silicon Valley, ironically, is the worst place in the U.S. for getting broadband.

    He was hyperbolizing, but I'll back him up there; my old San Jose neighborhood had neither DSL nor high-speed cable until 2005. If nothing else, maybe the U-verse move will spur Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) into moving a bit faster.

  • Juniper completes options audit, the result being $900 million in non-cash charges. CEO Scott Kriens himself received two questionable options but exercised neither of them. Earlier talk was that some execs could get ousted over options, even Kriens himself ... so, will this news douse that talk (Kriens having received no backdating money) or flame it on ($900 million!)? (See Backdating Could Bite Juniper Execs.)

  • Motorola buys Tut. Sure. Makes sense at a glance. (See Tut Tightens Belt in Tough IPTV Space.)

  • James Brown's passing. The Godfather of Soul deserves at least a moment of silence, although a gutteral, heartfelt "HYUH!" might be more appropriate.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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