Optical/IP Networks

Chorum Adds Four Veeps

RICHARDSON, Texas -- Chorum Technologies Inc. signaled that it’s renewing its run at the financial markets today by announcing four new hires: a securities lawyer, a business development manager, an engineering manager, and an operations boss (see Chorum Names Four VPs).

The new managers include: Ali Haider, vice president of engineering, formerly of Digital Lightwave Inc. (Nasdaq: DIGL); eighteen-year Lucent veteran Michael Decelle, who’s become Chorum’s corporate development boss; George Simpson Jr., formerly of DSC Communications, now Chorum’s operations boss; and Daniel Rabun, a former corporate securities lawyer at Baker and McKenzie, now Chorum’s general counsel.

Chorum originally filed for a $150 million IPO on Halloween last year, but the markets were too parlous for a company that had but one customer, Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and no profits.

On Feb. 2, 2001, Chorum amended its SEC paperwork to include new customer-related information that, along with its recent hires, shows that the company is still itching to go public before midyear.

The firm’s products include DWDM subsystems and components such as optical filters, processors, and switches. The engine driving its products is liquid crystal technology, notable because it has no moving parts; but it hasn’t yet proven to be as fast as other commercially available technologies (see Chorum Makes A (Small) Splash In Optical Switches).

Chorum’s latest filing says it has shipped “pre-production or evaluation units” to several vendors, including: Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV), Fujitsu Ltd. (KLS: FUJI.KL), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Marconi Communications PLC (Nasdaq/London: MONI), Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) Pirelli Optical unit, and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR). Of course, there’s no guarantee these evaluators will buy Chorum’s products, but just getting into their labs is a big deal for a startup.

So far, Chorum’s only paying customer has been Nortel, which buys its Optical Slicer filters, suitable for upgrading DWDM systems.

As of the end of last year, Chorum had some $78 million in losses and isn’t likely to be profitable anytime soon. But the company’s growth rate, given a slowing economy, has been impressive. Between the end of 1999 and 2000, Chorum grew from 115 employees to 676. Its current headcount stands at about 750.

-- Phil Harvey, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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