Companies like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) certainly kept human resource workers on their toes as they shuffled and sometimes reshuffled executives in top spots. And with the stock market in the toilet, many executives have opted to get out of public companies altogether. Instead, they’ve taken leading positions at the few hot startups still getting funding.
Here’s how we sized up the top ten most important personnel moves of the year.
No. 10: Randall Kruep -- Procket Rocks
Once top sales boss at Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK), Kruep clearly saw sales declining at Redback. He is now CEO of one of Silicon Valley's stealthiest and hottest startups, IP routing specialist Procket Networks Inc. (Procket is Number 9 on the Light Reading top ten private company list -- see Light Reading's Top Ten Private Companies.)
Kruep wasn’t the only one jumping ship at Redback in 2001. The company also lost several other top execs, including its CEO Vivek Ragavan. As the company’s stock price slid to new lows in the early spring, Ragavan, who sold Siara to Redback for $4 billion in 1999, bailed and took the top spot at metro Ethernet startup, Atrica Inc. (Atrica was just named Number 2 on the Light Reading hot startup list -- see Light Reading's Top Ten Private Companies).
In the last year and a half, Redback has had more CEOs than profitable quarters. First, there was Dennis Barsema (see Redback's Barsema to Lead Startup), then Vivek Ragavan. In late August, after courting several Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) execs for the top spot, the company announced former Cisco sales exec, Kevin DeNuccio, as new CEO. The big question now: Will DeNuccio -- who spent six years at as the top sales boss in Cisco's service provider line of business -- be able to save Redback’s sinking ship?
Barron, who came to Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) as CEO of acquired Chromatis, lost his job this spring when the company reorganized again, eliminating his product group and canceling development of the Chromatis product. Now he is CEO of LightCross Inc., an optical component startup.
- May 2000: Lucent Catches Chromatis
- August 2000: Lucent Shakes Up Optical Group
- April 2001: Lucent Metro Boss Leaves
- July 2001: LightCross Taps Former Chromatis CEO
Don Smith and his old pal Terry Matthews, of Newbridge Networks Corp. (NYSE: NN; Toronto: NNC) fame, have gotten the band together again, so to speak. In March, Smith left his post as president of Nortel’s optical Internet solutions group, taking the president position at Mitel Networks, where former colleague Matthews is chairman of the board.
One day he’s there, the next he’s gone.
- April 2001: Nortel Appoints Marketing Strategist -- Nineteen-year Nortel veteran, Anil Khatod, is appointed to the newly created chief marketing and strategy officer position, reporting directly to CEO John Roth.
- July 13, 2001: Nortel's Marketing Chief Resigns -- Khatod bails to pursue other opportunities
- July 18, 2001: Nortel Finds New Marketing Chief -- Alan Kember, another Nortel vet, takes on top marketing spot
The rumor mill was churning this summer when it became clear that Kennedy and Cisco CEO John Chambers were not getting along. The big question: Where would the senior VP end up? Redback? Nortel? By late August, the mystery was finally laid to rest when Kennedy, emerged as COO of Openwave Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: OPWV), an IP-based communication infrastructure software company. Score for Openwave.
- July 2001: Cisco's Kennedy: Recruiter's Dream?
- July 2001: Cisco's Kennedy Ready to Leave?
- August 2001: Reorg Rips Through Cisco's Ranks
- August 2001: Kennedy Lands at Openwave
Is Carl Russo, the man behind Cisco’s optical story, slowly making his way out the back door?
- May 2001: The Top Ten Movers and Shakers in Optical Networking -- Light Reading names Russo number one “Mover and Shaker” in optical networking
- August 2001: Reorg Rips Through Cisco's Ranks -- Russo steps down from his post as head of Cisco’s optical division, amidst a massive restructuring at Cisco. Takes on optical strategy for the company
- November 2001: Calix Boosts Management Muscle -- He pops up as chairman of the board at Calix
2001 was not Nortel’s year; that’s for sure. Not only did the company report one disappointing quarter after another, which helped send the entire United States economy ass over tea cup into a recession, it also lost several top executives. But the giant from the North is not giving up. The company is reorganizing and refocusing. Step one: It’s named Harley-riding Nortel vet, Greg Mumford as CTO, clearly putting optical as a top priority. See: Nortel Bets on Mumford. No. 1: John Roth -- Accelerated Retirement
When the going gets tough, it’s time to get a new CEO. Nortel CEO John Roth was supposed to step down in April 2002, but that date got moved up. In October, the same day the company cut 20,000 more jobs and announced it had recorded a $3.6 billion loss in its third quarter, it also announced that Frank A. Dunn, Nortel's chief financial officer, would become Nortel’s chief executive as of November 1, 2001.