BrightLink to Shut Down This Week

Optical switch maker BrightLink Networks Inc. is closing its doors for good this week, the company confirmed Monday. The startup put another 55 employees on furlough earlier this month, in addition to the 25 it furloughed in March (see BrightLink Is Fading Out and BrightLink, White Rock Cut Jobs).

"Together we've worked hard to create a great product, and I want to thank each and every one of you for the outstanding contributions you've made," wrote BrightLink CEO Paul Schaller in a note to employees, obtained by Light Reading.

BrightLink's furloughed employees were on an unpaid leave of absence with benefits. They also had use of their email and voice mail while the company sought funding and entertained hopes of calling them back to work.

When BrightLink ceases operations, employees will receive a check for their unused vacation and they'll lose their benefits. Schaller, however, says he's working on some way to extend employee benefits a little longer, "hopefully thirty days."

Also, if Schaller can pull it off, he says he'd like to organize a party for every BrightLink employee, past and present, to celebrate the company's accomplishments and to give its final employees some recognition for their hard work. "We'll try to have a barbeque or something like that."

Earlier this month BrightLink's investors gave it a bridge loan of about $2 million to cover about two months worth of expenses. "Of course, with a bridge loan, investors are looking for an event to bridge to," says Schaller. "That would have been additional investment in the company."

Schaller took the chairman and CEO job in May 2001, after his predecessor, Harry Quackenboss, resigned (see Brightlink Shuffles Top Management). The company's last major funding round of $35.8 million was announced in June 2001.

Whether BrightLink files for bankruptcy protection has not been determined. Schaller and company are working those details out this week. There are, however, "several interested parties" inquiring about BrightLink's intellectual property, from the chipset to the full system, Schaller says. He says interested parties include systems vendors and some companies "you wouldn't normally expect." (Like who? Disney? Philip Morris? Revlon?)

Schaller says there were two IXCs testing BrightLink's switch, and both were favorably impressed with the company's technology and support (see Brightlink Works on Its Grooming and Brightlink Checks Its Grooming).

One source close to the company's investors hints that Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) is one of the systems companies interested in its switch. BrightLink had no comment on the speculation. Late last year, Cisco was reportedly looking to acquire BrightLink (see Would Cisco Buy Brightlink?). Strangely, BrightLink also pointed to Cisco as the company that tried to foil one of its early recruiting efforts (see Bye-Bye BrightLink Blimp).

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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mbailey 12/4/2012 | 10:30:08 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week You do have a long memory .... too bad for them
flanker 12/4/2012 | 10:30:08 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week Some clown from BrightLink wrote this flame back in November:

dear flanker, how is life from the rear?
If anyone actually knew anything about the admittedly bloody carrier market, and has some REAL LIFE experience they would conclude that the tradional suppliers - Alcatel, Lucent, Tellabs, Fuji have left the RBOC's stranded technologically. cisco has filled a niche for a while, but " rack and stack" is getting long in the tooth. Grooming switches are hot and if they scale people will be buying as soon as soon as the dust settles. P.S. real buyers are looking for more options that the oldest OXC from CIENA.......

Ha! Ha!
Two 12/4/2012 | 10:30:07 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week So now that things are over and done with, can anyone enlighten us on how the BOSS switch worked? (is knave still out there?)

I gathered:
-- 64 OC-48 ports (bidir) per box
-- Half rack per box
-- Lasers (VCSELs?) out the back allowed you to together multiple nodes into a strictly nonblocking hypercube.
-- 8 boxes could be linked together to form a 512 port "hypernode." (implying 4 interconnect ports for a standard "2-ary 4-cube" hypercube)
-- Two hops max from in to out.
-- There were plans for 16-node 1024, but not enough interconnect ports on the firstgen box.

It seemed a neat idea on paper, but I imagine the interconnect costs killed you (even VCSELs are far more $ than FR4). Coordinating control switchover and protection switching events between distributed processors must have been a bear.

Just curious.

cyber_techy 12/4/2012 | 10:30:07 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week Their web site only has contact information left on it.
sonet49er 12/4/2012 | 10:30:07 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week Dear Flanker,

Is gloating required? In order to maintain a good kharmic balance shouldn't you have just let the old flame drop. I would have to believe that person who flamed you is already down.

I don't work at Brightlink.
tear-a-bytes 12/4/2012 | 10:30:06 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week Regarding Two's questions...
Given that the company is very likely in the process of trying to sell off the IP, does anyone really think people in the know are going to suddenly disclose the detailed answers in this forum? Suffice it to say, the product does work, it scales to 1024 ports, grooms, is completely non-blocking, the VCSEL challenge was solved long ago without a backplane redesign, and there is plenty of $ margin to make the product very compelling to all involved in a product sale. One has to believe that the product will very likely be reborn under another product name. Some very savvy and fortunate investor will surely buy the IP and bring this beauty to market. Heck, it would seem to me that any vendor currently in the big grooming SONET switch space would want to buy it just to keep it out of the hands of a competitor. It is clear that BrightLink closed its doors only because it takes cash to ramp up manufacturing and other infrastructure. The investment community has beome too afraid of anything related to telecom so they bailed out, and anyone else with smarts and money probably thinks they can buy the IP cheaper after the company folds. But I say stay tuned... BrightLink may be gone, but I for one cannot believe the product is.

Let the bidding war begin!
flanker 12/4/2012 | 10:30:05 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week sonet49er

I could point to a lot of evidence that "kharmic balance", or its practice, has nothing to do with a successful vc or start-up, but hey, that might upset the cosmic kharmic balance.

Excuse me while I consult with my feng shui interior designer and point my desk to the east.

telecom 12/4/2012 | 10:30:04 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week Flanker,

it doesn't do any good to point out some past optimistic opinion of some one who might be feeling bad now especially if the person is still working there.

You must know by now that some companies succeed and some don't. Some succeed for a short time and some succeed for little longer and some for a long time. But even some of the longer stories are winding down and turning dark corners. LU, NT, Ebbers (he is an institution in himself).

The pain of BL has been felt only by vc investors who put more than 100M$ over 3 years but not the public. But the story of some of the successful public companies is that the pain is felt by public and the pain is a bigger one.

There are any number of currently publicly trading companies (CMRC, ARBA,CORV,...) who went public with a business model that is based on over optimism of telecom space. Selfish CEOs, and analysts sold stock of these and other companies at 60, 100, ... to innocent investors. So the public lost temendously at the expense of CEOs, VCs and analysts and to some extent the employess of these so called successful companies. Can these people , and if you are one of them, give back money to the individual investors to whom these people sold their stock at 40, 60, 100, 180...? By being successful (meaning an IPO) may be some of these companies brought pain to innocent public even if one were to appreciate productivity gains of products and solutions these companies.

It is in that sense BL failed: none of its investors, people associated with that company will stand as some who made money in the cheat game called telecom-96-2000 that took away 600Billion dollars from public and the money went to people who got that dis proportion to their contributions or efforts.

The public must be very happy that BL is not one of the companies on which they lost money. Add to that a fact that they have working product and not vaporware.

If anything I think the management of BL didn't participate (some one may say, they didn't have contacts to participate) in the telecom/internet con game of 98-01 if ever there is going to be a trial.

May be it is a philosphical glorification of a failed startup but if you know lottery not everybody wins and we don't have formulas to buy lotter tickets. Startups lottery tickets of 96-01 are just that. If you won a lottery that is good for you
hhhuey 12/4/2012 | 10:30:04 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week
Tiburon shut down yesterday. So much for NT's
puddnhead_wilson 12/4/2012 | 10:30:03 PM
re: BrightLink to Shut Down This Week I see eternal optimism springs ... well, eternal ...
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