Optical/IP Networks

Calient Achieves Top 10 Status

Calient Networks has got onto Light Reading's list of Top 10 Private Companies. It’s entering in the No. 6 slot, replacing the position previously held by Cyras Systems Inc.

Cyras has ended up in our “Liquidity Bin” now that it’s being acquired by Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and is thus no longer a hot prospect for an IPO (see Light Reading's Top Ten Private Companies).

Our decision to pipe Calient directly into the No. 6 slot, leapfrogging some startups that have been on our Top 10 list from the beginning, is largely based on Calient’s whopping big round of finance -- $150 million plus -- which we found out about this week, ahead of its formal announcement (see Calient Raising $150 Million Plus).

Calient’s ability to raise this amount of money when the market is so depressed indicates that it’s got the money folks really excited, and that counts for a lot when assessing a startup’s IPO prospects.

At Light Reading we’ve blown hot and cold on Calient. We started off thinking that it had a couple of real killer advantages -- very dense switching fabric based on arrays of truly tiny tilting mirrors, and some very sexy signaling software (see Calient Claims Breakthroughs On Optical Switches for details).

But since then we’ve had second thoughts. This is partly because other vendors appear to be finding ways of building big optical switches with electrical cores -- putting off the day when carriers will need to take the plunge with more risky all-optical switches like Calient’s.

Another reason for caution is that the market for large-scale, all-optical switches may be quite small, according to Scott Clavenna, president of PointEast Research LLC and director of research at Light Reading. The total U.S. market for 1,000-by-1,000-port, all-optical switches may be less than 100 units, according to Clavenna.

Those reservations held us back from including Calient in our inaugural list of Top 10 Private Companies. But now that it’s clear that the financial community doesn’t share our concerns, we’re happy to go with the IPO flow.

For more on why Calient made the grade, please go to Calient Networks.

-- Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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