Dude, Where's My Carr?

Tellium Inc. (Nasdaq: TELM) announced its anticipated job cuts on Monday after the market closed (see Tellium Wields the Axe). But the big question to arise at Tellium headquarters, apparently, was: Where's the CEO?

William Proetta, president and COO of the company, who has taken over the day-to-day leadership of the company, was the one to deliver the bad news to the 200 staffers that were laid off.

For about a month now, Tellium CEO Harry Carr has rarely been seen at the office, say sources on the scene. In fact, one source says that he has only seen Carr at Tellium headquarters once since May. Back in May, Carr told the staff during the company’s weekly meeting that he had some personal affairs to take care of and that he would be out of the office for a couple of weeks. But sources close to the company say they believe Carr’s personal issues were resolved weeks ago.

Tellium officials, including Carr himself, have not returned Light Reading phone calls regarding this story.

His absence has left some wondering if the board has asked him to step down. Others speculate that he is on the road trying to sell the company. And still others believe that he is still working on those personal matters.

Regardless of why he has been missing, one thing is clear, Tellium has been struggling (see Cuts for Tellium?). The latest Wall Street scuttlebutt is that it will fall short of the $30 million in revenue Wall Street analysts have predicted. In Monday's press release, which announced the restructuring plan, the company said it would provide more guidance on its financial condition later this week.

Carr has been described by former employees and analysts covering the company as a very involved CEO and chairman. His absence disappointed former Tellium workers. “He always said that Tellium was like a family,” says one former employee. “But he didn’t even face us to say goodbye. He couldn’t even come to look people in the eye.”

The cuts at Tellium were made across the entire company and affected everyone from marketing to engineering to operations. One group that was eliminated almost entirely was the MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical system) group, signaling that the company has likely canceled its full-spectrum all-optical switch. Jim Walker, director of the MEMS program, Evan Goldstein, and Lih Lin, were all seen leaving the building yesterday, boxes in hand. Another member of the MEMS team, Karen Bergman, had already left the company to teach at Columbia University in New York City, says one source.

For the most part, departing employees were pleased with their severance package, which includes two month’s salary and health benefits until the end of the year. The company also extended the amount of time ex-employees have to exercise their options from 90 days to a full year.

For those employees left behind, the company is also instituting a stock swap plan, which will allow employees still working at Tellium to turn in their old options and get them repriced at a lower strike price.

Tellium’s stock closed down $0.22 (20.18%) to $0.87 yesterday.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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wdog 12/4/2012 | 10:12:48 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? Instead of investing in MEMs Tellium should have investing in getting a grooming solution in their portfolio. They would be in a lot better shape to survive the down turn if they had.
manoflalambda 12/4/2012 | 10:12:47 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? So does that mean Astarte is now A-stopped-eh? :)

Couldn't resist,
ivehadit 12/4/2012 | 10:12:46 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? despite the hype, grooming switches are not selling either.

next gen is not selling either, except where it does traditional sonet more efficiently.

the message is: build legacy, build dense, build cheap, affiliate with lucent, nortel or alcatel to get your stuff in the network. don't go it alone.

the markets message is the exact opposite of what the startup guys are saying.
high plains drifter 12/4/2012 | 10:12:44 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? It's great to see a sense of humor in this sometimes dry, stuffy industry...one that happens to be completely imploding at the moment as well.

Light Reading, thanks for keeping it Light Hearted, so to speak.
hikari 12/4/2012 | 10:12:42 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? Finally they are gone.

I cannot imagine Tellium without MEMS.
Lin, Goldstein and even Bergman
who just left the professorship at Princeton
to join the company....

Bye Tellium.
gea 12/4/2012 | 10:12:40 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? Well, hindsight is always 20/20. A the time Tellium was focusing on its one product, many of us in the industry believed that we'd see vast networks of MPLS-based routers operating at )C-48c/192c, connected by a fairly smart optical cloud. The Tellium switch was designed expressly for that world, which has delayed in coming.

The good thing aout Tellium was that they focused exclusively on that vision, and were partically successful in demonstrating the value of a wavelength switch. The bad thing is that the market has not developed like many of us thought.

A "sleep mode" is indeed best for Tellium, and their only chance of survival. It's really too bad about Lih Lin, Evan and Karen Bergman...I'd argue that these three heavy hitters more than payed their way via presence at conferences and so forth. I think it was clear that most of us knew that when MEMs-based switches became a market reality, Tellium was going to be the leader. Even if Tellium was cutting any real development of the MEMs switch, the decision to chop THEM can't have been made by someone who actually knows anything about this industry.
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 10:12:37 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? When Telium starts to sell a text book as an evidence to its "great technology". When this happening, I smelled disater. It also sad the way it started the debate on O-O_O vs. E-O-E switches.
May be this was promoted by the author of the text.

The company last its focus on its products and started making toys with which it can play.

Unfortunately start-ups do not understand the purchasing and the approval cycle of public carriers.

Over 10,000 VCs operating in the US have heart the public carriers, start-ups and well established equipment suppliers.
BlueWater66 12/4/2012 | 10:12:36 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? In the grooming switch discussion, someone mentioned "sleep mode". To be honest, I've never (EVER) seen a technology company go into hibernation and survive. This was a discussion at a recent conference I attended, and the entire room agreed. The only exception anyone could think of was several drug companies who were forced to wait years for FDA approval.

I don't believe there is any way for hibernation to work. Technology changes too fast. Tellium doesn't have grooming. The MPLS/OC-xxC world never really materialized. When it does, the technology will be different. There are a lot of grooming switches being released by competitors in a sleepy market.

Good luck! I really liked working with them.
BBBoa 12/4/2012 | 10:12:33 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? Carr's probably hiding out in the Cayman Islands or some private island with his backyard neighbor, Joe Nacchio. I wouldn't be surprised if they ran into Ebbers while they're down there.
gea 12/4/2012 | 10:12:28 PM
re: Dude, Where's My Carr? BobbyMax aka Harvey Mudd:
You sure are on a roll today! Kirshna Bala's work is widely published and he has been instrumental in shaping GMPLS and OIF standards. I've worked indirectly with him via the MONET project, and I can say he's the real McCoy. YOU, on the other hand, couldn't recognize a useful technology if it bit you on the left nut.

Go take another swig of whatever you've been drinking and sit down. While you're at it, throw your computer in the garbage: it was sold to you by a corrupt computer vendor such as Dell or Compaq that doesn't really have any innovative technology, and their computers don't work. Even these words are generated by a radio placed inside your computer and then printed on a fake screen....it was never able to access the internet. Indeed, the internet does not actually exist, but is the product of corrupt VCs looking to steal more investment dollars.
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