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Optical/IP Networks

Brightlink Shuffles Top Management

This week BrightLink Networks Inc. announced that Harry Quackenboss, its chairman and CEO, has resigned. Taking his place for the time being is Paul Schaller, a founding board member. More telling, though, is that Dick Liebhaber, a former MCI (now WorldCom Inc. [Nasdaq: WCOM]) executive who’s also on Qwest Communications International Corp.'s (NYSE: Q) board, has agreed to be BrightLink’s chairman (see Quackenboss Quits ).

BrightLink wouldn’t comment on why Quackenboss was resigning or whether the firm’s board demanded his resignation. Its board members -- including Warren Packard of Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Doug Carlisle of Menlo Ventures -- didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Light Reading couldn’t reach Quackenboss for comment via email and executives at BrightLink (ridiculously) said they didn’t have any way of reaching him.

Scott Clavenna, president of PointEast Research LLC and director of research at Light Reading, figures Quackenboss’s ouster was because his background didn’t jibe with the firms with which BrightLink needs the most influence. Quackenboss is a dyed-in-the-wool data-networking guy with names like Cisco and Crescendo on his resume. BrightLink, however, is trying to sell to telecommunications service providers.

BrightLink’s product, the BOSS 1000 optical switch, is designed to site at the core of carrier transport networks and can grow from 16 to 1024 ports of OC48 without a forklift upgrade. “The intellectual property for BrightLink’s switch was inspired by the data networking world, but the main market for their product is in Sonet grooming and switching,” Clavenna says.

Now it's crunch time for BrightLink. The company has $78 million in total funding, but its last announced funding round came more than a year ago. It recently cut 27 percent of its staff and closed an 18,500 square-foot facility in Texas (see BrightLink Slims Down).

As the company prepares to go head-to-head with vendors such as Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR), which already have relationships with big carriers, it obviously felt it needed to put on a face that showed it was serious about the service provider market (see BrightLink's Prospects Brighten ).

“Harry’s a good guy and BrightLink has a good product, but their progress has been hampered on a few fronts,” Clavenna says. “They’ve had a hard time raising money, and investors might have been worried that Harry wasn’t of the right pedigree to attract the kind of talent, pocketbooks, and customers BrightLink needs.”

-- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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fatchance 12/4/2012 | 8:28:12 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management With a Qwest/MCI on board they should have no trouble getting an audience with telecom firms. With sales contacts customers will examine new products/technology regardless who is ceo. It sounds like a superficial excuse. Dig deeper.
noitall 12/4/2012 | 8:28:12 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management in this brightlink story you quote scott clavenna, who is a member of your staff. you do this all the time. his personal thoughts and speculations are of no journalistic value!!!! get some sources and quote some people. do your freaking homework. brightlink is d.o.a., i'm not defending them, but man it's like nails on a chalkboard reading this junk and seeing scott clavenna quoted speculating....

thanks
noitall
vomonquan 12/4/2012 | 8:28:11 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management Pull out the SpinMeister. But I doubt it would do any good. This is the end game. Do you think carriers with a sensible mind would invest millions of dollars in equipment purchase and their own future on such an unstable company? No VP of engineering, no VP of Architecture, no original founders on board ( read their Web site on Management). And now with the departure of the 1st CEO??
I like Quackenboss. He is a nice fella.
I like the technology, it's too bad it took them so long to bring it out.
I hope someone will buy them. Who knows, the board may try to sell the company for cheap, or liquidate it and Quackenboss was against it, so he got the shaft. Just pure speculation.
DCITDave 12/4/2012 | 8:28:06 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management Hello.

Well, youG«÷re right about one thing: Scott is on payroll in some way. He does wear a lot of hats. But his opinions are of value as he, while wearing his G«£industry analystG«• hat, gets to see companies from the inside out.

In the case of BrightLink, Scott did some early due diligence on the company and heG«÷s tracked their activities very closely. I think IG«÷ve only quoted Scott once or twice in my career and if youG«÷ve ever read anything IG«÷ve written you know that I donG«÷t quote industry analysts that often at all. Hardly ever.

Still, I sought Scott out in this instance because he was the best available source and one of the only people with direct knowledge of the company that was willing to go on the record.

YouG«÷ll notice I first sought comment from the company and its board members. I also tried to interview Mr. Quackenboss, but he couldnG«÷t be reached. To his credit, Warren Packard did call back at 8 p.m. (central) on Friday evening. He said my voicemail wasnG«÷t picking up the day before. In any case, it was good of him to call back, but the article was a done deal.

So where do we leave this? Well, I need to state for the record that youG«÷re absolutely wrong when you imply that I didnG«÷t do my homework for that article or that I donG«÷t have the sources necessary to do my job.

That said, you bring up a good point that our reporters might sometimes give Scott a little too much ink in our articles. WeG«÷ve noticed that, too, and donG«÷t want to give the appearance that we call him just because he does some work for us. As a group, weG«÷ve taken to quoting him less often and itG«÷s really rare (like in this article) where heG«÷d be the only source quoted at all.

The catch, of course, is that heG«÷s one of the smartest analysts in the business. Call him yourself. He really does know his stuff and when you hit on a topic heG«÷s not well versed in, heG«÷s the first to bow out of the conversation. So it may be annoying to see Scott as a source, but he is a good source. Despite that fact, however, weG«÷re working to annoy you less and less in that regard.

Thanks for reading.
DCITDave 12/4/2012 | 8:28:04 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management Your question: "He might truly be a talented person, someone that people around the marketplace say nice things about and really do a lot to offer something of value to people but at what point does the role of Industry Analyst stop and PR Spokesman begin?"

Answer: When the analyst in question refuses to honestly identify his client's strengths and weaknesses.

Your question: "Is he going to review other analysts' stuff?"

Answer: The section of Light Research that summarizes other analyst's reports is written by journalists, not competing analysts.

Your question: "If he is going to offer criticism of people, who reviews him?"

Answer: Scott's a source and a colleague, but he's not immune to a good ripping if he does something boneheaded.

Your question: "If LR is going to hold people up to public scrutiny...how can this happen when he has been as guilty as anyone of hyping markets and endorsing the companies who buy his reports and consulting services?"

Answer: Scott's consulting arrangements have nothing to do with the editorial coverage of Light Reading. He's a good source of analysis and information, but he doesn't call the editorial shots here.

Your question: "And, how much expert opinion do you think this magazine is going to get if they piss off the heavyweights that work in the industry?"

Answer: I'm not worried about who we upset during the course of our coverage. Sure, I tick my sources off once in a while, but they still return my calls because they understand I'm doing my job (writing and analyzing news) and I'm not getting paid to make them look good.

Your question: "Lastly, does LR get anything from business that Scott brings in? If not, why the promotion?"

Answer: Scott's consulting business is his own business and we don't profit from that. We do, however, profit from providing good, insightful information. That's why we promote the Light Research site. More hits means more money, etc.

To conclude, I think you'll find that the answers to a lot of your questions about how our site operates, and so on, by studying our editorial disclosure statement: http://www.lightreading.com/ab...
dlharding 12/4/2012 | 8:28:04 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management There are reasons that Scott is quoted as often as he has been. One, he is an employee of LightReading and judging by the new section that they have just built, it makes sense as to why. Secondly, Scott has always been widely quoted in not only the press and in a ton of vendor press releases as well. He might truly be a talented person, someone that people around the marketplace say nice things about and really do a lot to offer something of value to people but at what point does the role of Industry Analyst stop and PR Spokesman begin?

And, judging by the new section that LR is coming our with on the research side, you can expect to see a lot more coverage of him, which really does represent some conflicts of interest. Is he going to review other analysts' stuff? (Like anyone is going to send LR their reports) If he is going to offer criticism of people, who reviews him? It certainly cannot be his coworkers who have hyped him as the industry's big dog. If LR is going to hold people up to public scrutiny (which is a rather novel idea and one that is long overdue) how can this happen when he has been as guilty as anyone of hyping markets and endorsing the companies who buy his reports and consulting services?

And, how much expert opinion do you think this magazine is going to get if they piss off the heavyweights that work in the industry?

Lastly, does LR get anything from business that Scott brings in? If not, why the promotion?

Time will tell....
dlharding 12/4/2012 | 8:28:03 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management Fair and well articulated replies.

Thanks
noitall 12/4/2012 | 8:28:03 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management you guys are doing a great job...i posted a criticism you all know is valid: don't quote your own people...but on balance i like what you're doing. now the entire staff is responding in these message boards. let it go. as you'll see in any reputable publication on or off line, seldom do editors or the journalists themselves, or their staffs, ever respond directly to criticism. just absorb it, note it, and improve from it. the sooner you get your journalistic act together, the sooner you can secure the credibility you'll need for this digital rag to survive over the long haul, no pun intended. again, keep up the good work and please keep focused on continuous improvement (and diverse sources).
noitall
lo_mein_noodles 12/4/2012 | 8:27:58 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management I'm sorry Phil...you wrote this in your reply, and all I can envision is you yelling over your cube...Hey Scott, what do you think about...LOL!! hehe...sorry!

'Still, I sought Scott out in this instance because he was the best available source and one of the only people with direct knowledge of the company that was willing to go on the record. '
DCITDave 12/4/2012 | 8:27:54 PM
re: Brightlink Shuffles Top Management :)

Right. "Hey! Look! The analyst leaving his cube and heading to the bathroom. Maybe I can get a quote!"

Seriously, I'm in TX and he's in Boston. So I still get my sources the hard way.

ph
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