Optical/IP Networks

Calix Boosts Management Muscle

Calix Networks , the Petaluma, Calif.-based optical access startup, confirmed Thursday that it has appointed Steven DeGennaro as its first chief financial officer and has named Carl Russo the chairman of its board of directors.

Both appointments happened during the first week of November and both appear to make Calix a more attractive company to outside investors.

DeGennaro served as CFO of Xircom, Inc., now an Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) subsidiary, since June 1996. He had worked with the company in other finance-related jobs since 1993. Prior to that, DeGennaro was a senior manager at KPMG.

Russo, who was once Xircom's chief operating officer and now works as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) vice president of optical strategy, says there's no major change in his responsibilities by becoming Calix's board chairman. "Mike [Hatfield, Calix's CEO and president] asked me to step up and help him out and, after getting it approved [with Cisco], I agreed to do so," Russo says. "There's no difference in fiduciary responsibilities between being a director and the chairman of the board."

He adds that things are going well at Cisco and, contrary to earlier rumors, he has no intention of leaving his post there.

Russo has spots on the boards of -- and personal investments in -- three privately held communications startups: Calix; MobileSys Inc., a wireless infrastructure services provider; and Kuokoa Networks Inc., a stealthy storage startup located near Cisco on Tasman Drive in San Jose, Calif. None of these companies compete with Cisco.

Calix has raised more than $100 million since its founding and is reportedly building a product that helps incumbent carriers eliminate bandwidth bottlenecks between the metropolitan area networks (MANs) surrounding cities and the businesses and residences within the cities.

Calix's other board members include CEO Michael Hatfield; Ajaib Bhadare, one of Cerent Corp.'s founders; and Paul Ferris, a partner at Azure Capital Management.

The company's investors include Azure Capital Partners, Flextronics International (Nasdaq: FLEX), Integral Capital Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, Michael Dell's MSD Capital Partners, Pivotal Asset Management, Redpoint Ventures, and several individuals.

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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