This year's gala dinner ceremony is linked with Heavy Reading's Links Executive Summit 2006, also in Santa Barbara. (See Media Stars in Links 2006 Conference.)
For a look at this year's finalists, see LR Names Leading Lights Finalists.
But what about last year's winners? As we saw with the first go-around, in 2004, not every winner becomes the beacon of shining success that best represents a Leading Lights recipient.
So, while we await the unveiling of this year's winners, let's take a look at how the 2005 winners fared in the past 12 months.
Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) chief Russo may still have been clutching her Leading Lights gong when, in the early months of this year, she brokered a deal with Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) grand fromage Serge "The Merge" Tchuruk to combine the two companies. (See Alcatel, Lucent Seal Deal and Alcatel/Lucent Decide on New Name.)
The whole "Lucatel" episode shows why Russo is a winner. Not only did she find a way to future-proof her company, and convince Lucent's shareholders to approve the merger, but Russo landed the CEO role as well. (See Lucent & Alcatel: Quigley or Russo?, Inside Lucatel: Quigley's Not Mad at Pat, Alcatel, Lucent Need One More Blessing, and Alcatel Lucent Merger Under Fire.)
And since the April merger announcement, Russo has led from the front, fighting off suggestions that the transatlantic marriage can't come soon enough. The process is approaching the final lap, with Russo giving testimony before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee last week. (See Lucent's Russo: Don't Panic! and Lucent Offsets Alcatel Slump, and Russo, Quigley Go to DC.)
Her biggest challenge is yet to come, though. If, as expected, the merger is completed and Alcatel Lucent is operational from Jan. 1, 2007, Russo will be in Paris finding out just how tough it is to meld two disparate cultures, manage a company with more than $25 billion in annual revenues, and preside over the culling of thousands of jobs. (See Alcatel/Lucent: No Job Cut Clarity Yet.)
Like most tech concerns, Redback Networks Inc. shot skywards early in the year and hit a summer trough. But the stock, closing at $16.41 yesterday, is up about 33 percent from its Nov. 15, 2005 level. That's better than the other candidates in this category: ADVA Optical Networking and Neustar Inc. (NYSE: NSR) are up 15 and 8 percent on the year, respectively, and JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) are slightly down.
Moreover, Redback had been outperforming router firms Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), and, until its recent surge, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). We're feeling pretty good about this pick.
Alcatel's 1850 won last year because it isn't just a multiservice provisioning platform (MSPP), but one that is geared more towards Ethernet than the legacy services it manages, targeting the increasing demand for Ethernet services. (See Alcatel Unveils 'Universal' Metro Switch.)
But the box, initially launched for the European market at the end of 2005, has been relatively low profile. Telecom Italia (TIM) was the big name showing early interest, but there has been no more word of those trials in the past year. Market speculation also had the 1850 in trials at Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM), though that engagement is believed to have experienced difficulties.
The only two verified customers to date are a small operator in Russia and a research network in Germany. (See Golden Line Selects Alcatel Switch and VIOLA Uses Alcatel Switch.) Alcatel says, though, that the 1850 is "engaged with nearly 30 customers" worldwide, Telecom Italia included, and that "most have placed firm orders," with "many" putting equipment in the field.
Still, a Tier 1 carrier customer announcement would do wonders for the 1850's ongoing profile.
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