Don Smith Leaves Nortel

Don’s just a startup guy, eh?

That’s the story coming out of Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) headquarters today. Don Smith, President of Optical Internet Solutions, today punched out for the last time at Nortel, possibly leaving to lead a startup, according to Nortel officials.

”Don has decided he’s moving on, that’s for sure,” said Greg Mumford, President of Nortel’s Optical Internet division. “It’s the entrepreneur in him doing one more. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a smaller organization.”

It’s a big deal. The departure ends a two-year period of teamwork between Smith and Mumford at the top of Nortel's optical division. Smith was the marketing guru, complementing Mumford’s technical expertise (see Greg Mumford). Although Smith reported to Mumford, the pair presided over the core of Nortel’s optical networking products in a sort of tag-team fashion -- which led to their dual inclusion in Light Reading's Top Ten Movers and Shakers list.

Smith came to Nortel a little over two years ago through the december 1998 acquisition of startup Cambrian Systems. The Cambrian product has since become the Nortel’s Optera metro optical networking platform. Smith was the founder of Cambrian, where he was President and CEO. Prior to that, he was president of AIT and an executive vice president at Mitel Corp. (NYSE/Toronto/London: MLT).

According to Mumford, Smith stayed at Nortel slighty longer than the two years stipulated in the agreement covering the buyout of Cambrian.

There will be no direct replacement of Smith, but Nortel is in the process of reorganizing the optical networking group, according to Nortel officals.

For example, Brian McFadden, formerly vice president, Metro Optical Solutions, has been promoted to president of the Photonics Network, the new name for Nortel’s Metro Optical Networking division. Smith's reponsibilities in marketing the long-haul portion of the optical network will be assumed by Mumford.

Smith was unavailable for comment. Nortel officials said he has left the company Friday and is on vacation until he starts his new job. Light Reading will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

-- R. Scott Raynovich, executive editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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Rugger 12/4/2012 | 8:38:40 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel I thought the Qtera product was what became the Optera product line. Is it a combo of both, or was the Qtera technology thrown out altogether?
Rugger 12/4/2012 | 8:38:39 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel Sorry - my bad - I just re-red the article. Qtera offered Nortel a LH solution, Cambrian offered a metro solution. Any word on what Nortel is doing with the Qtera product?
leer 12/4/2012 | 8:38:39 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel Don will be missed, he was a tremendous assett. Hope they are successful in finding someone as talented.
Rex M 12/4/2012 | 8:38:35 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel The Cambrian product was called OPTera as Cambrian had the trademark on the OPTera name. When Nortel bought Cambrian they also got all of the trademarks and in turn used to OPTera trade name on their optical portfolio.
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 8:38:26 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel QTera is now the OPTera LH 4000.
Cambrian's OPTera is the OPTera Metro 5200.
LightSwitcher 12/4/2012 | 8:38:19 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel Could Corvis be a possibility?
soothaandi 12/4/2012 | 8:38:19 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel How 'bout guessing where Don Smith has moved?

Greg Mumford did not say "Startup", but said a smaller organization than Nortel.

Looking at Cambrian's competitors, most likely candidates are ...

Ciena - Needs a strong metro product portfolio. But has fairly strong management team and recognition.

Sorrento - Needs a strong CEO, so present CEO can become the CTO. Great customer list, growing revenues. Needs money and name recognition. Great turnaround potential.

ONI Systems - Not likely. Has money, has name recognition. Is already a star being pegged as a Gorilla.

LuxN, Astral Point, Zaffire, ... they are out there, but are they worth the risk with no sales or paying customers?

Optical Switching Companies? - Tellium already has name recognition. Calient also seems to be doing fine.

Optical components - Avanex would be a good fit. Since Nortel is their customer. But ... Walter Alessandrini and Simon Cao do not exactly need help, do they?

Other names? - please add to the list with your reasons.

So far, going by the companies I have listed above from the top of my head, Sorrento Networks seems to be a good candidate.

Who knows Don Smith might just decide to buy a nice plot of land in Canada and grow vegetables!
Noorizen 12/4/2012 | 8:38:18 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel Don Smith...to Sorrento!!!

It makes a lot of sense.

His mertocentric background in sales and marketing at Cambrian/NT could nicely complement the truly exceptional technology and product portfolio at Sorrento. Don may be the kind of manager Xin would feel comfortable handing over his life's work to.

smith1 12/4/2012 | 8:38:18 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel Maybe he's going to Lucent, words out that Jeong in gone.
soothaandi 12/4/2012 | 8:38:18 PM
re: Don Smith Leaves Nortel Possibility - although we must consider David Huber's presence, and Corvis' focus on Ultra-Long-Haul.

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