Bit Parts: Google Invests in Chinese Transceiver Firm

Dan O'Shea
News Analysis
Dan O'Shea, Analyst, Heavyreading.com
9/29/2014



Here's the latest news in Bit Parts, our semi-frequent, sometimes dramatic, always intriguing roundup of the optical components sector:

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has made its second recent telecom funding foray into Asia, becoming part of a $38 million investment round for optical transceiver company InnoLight Technology Corp. , based in Suzhou, China.

    The six-year-old company targets what is currently an explosive, but also crowded, market for 40G/100G optical transceivers. Part of the new excitement around transceivers is their deployment in data centers, so it comes as no surprise that Google, a major operator of large data centers, would be interested. News of the investment comes after Google was revealed last month to be one of the funding partners in the FASTER submarine cable project in Southeast Asia. (See Google's Game for Another Subsea Project.)

    It's worth noting that among InnoLight's experienced management team, CEO Sheng Liu once worked for Lucent Technologies unit Agere Systems, while CMO Osa Mok worked for Intel and US telco GTE, among others. Several members of the team also worked for Pine Photonics, the US transceiver firm acquired by Opnext in 2003. Opnext itself was acquired by Oclaro Inc. (Nasdaq: OCLR) in 2012. (See OpNext Acquires Pine Photonics and Oclaro & Opnext Complete Merger.)

  • That Oclaro mention makes for a nice little segue: Andrew Rickman -- who founded Bookham Technology, which merged with Avanex in 2009 to create (wait for it) Oclaro -- is making progress building his engineering team at his latest optical components firm, Rockley Photonics . Rockley earlier this month hired three experienced engineers, including a former Facebook engineer, to its expanding Pasadena, Calif., office. (See Rockley Photonics Expands Engineering Team.)

    Chairman and CEO Rickman recently spoke with Light Reading about his plans for Rockley -- although after roughly six months in charge, he was still pretty cagey about what exactly Rockley will do with its silicon photonics, other than to say it will not be a transceiver product, which was the focus of Rickman's most recent venture, Kotura Inc. . (See Mellanox Buys Silicon Photonics for 100G.)

    "Everybody's doing transceivers right now, and we're working on more of a system-based product," Rickman says.

    He adds that Rockley will work with equipment manufacturers targeting the data center market, but also directly with data center operators. "The data center operators are very proactive and involved in designing their own architectures, much more so than other network operators."


    Want to know more about optical components? Check out our dedicated optical components content channel here on Light Reading.


  • Oplink Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: OPLK) continues to hold off the activist investors behind the Oplink Shareholders for Change (OSC) group. OSC last week filed proxy materials with the SEC for the election of two representatives of its choice to the Oplink board of directors.

    Oplink fired back a day later with a statement insisting that it continues to have "constructive" conversations with shareholders about its plans to bring in two new board members, as well as to explore strategic alternatives for the company. Oplink has been sparring with Engaged Capital and Voce Capital Management for weeks over these efforts. (See Bit Parts: Investors Hound Oplink.)

    — Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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