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Ciena Loses Chief Scientist

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading

Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) has lost a key member of its staff: Victor Mizrahi, its chief scientist.

On the face of it, it looks like quite a blow. Mizrahi has played an important role in making sure that Ciena takes advantage of the latest developments in optical components, his speciality. Finding a replacement could be difficult, because scientists of Mizrahi's standing are in great demand.

However, Ciena says that Mizrahi has minimized the impact of his departure. Specifically, he's helped create three divisions dealing with switching, transmission, and access and has recruited a chief technology officer for each one. As a result, Ciena hasn't even decided yet whether it needs to fill Mizrahi's shoes.

Ciena also points out that most of the other senior managers that founded the company six years ago are still in place. The notable exception is David Huber, who quit soon after Ciena's IPO and eventually founded Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV).

Although Huber left after a big row, Mizrahi has left on the best of terms. "In my time at Ciena I personally saw it grow from a tiny start-up company, where I was only the 17th employee, to a substantial corporation of more than 2500," he said in an email message today. "It has been an exciting ride, and I have learned, grown, and made many wonderful friends. But the time has come to move on to the next phase in my life." Speaking to Light Reading today, Mizrahi said the time was ripe for his departure now that Ciena's stock price was hitting record highs (it recently went over $200). It had been a very different picture a couple of years ago, after Ciena's stock had taken a huge tumble and its planned acquisition of Tellabs (Nasdaq: TLAB) had fallen through (see The Last Laugh Is On Lucent), he added.

Mizrahi plans to take up the life of an entrepreneur, investing in some startups and possibly founding others. "I think it'll be very interesting to start a company or two of my own," he said. No surprise on what he plans to focus on: optical components.

-- Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading

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