Corvis Deletes Message Poster
Stephen Meyers, like many telecom workers, is a painted-faced fan of the sport of investing. His more than 325 posts to Light Reading's message boards are a mixed bag of company cheerleading and criticisms of senior management and the press. Unlike most fans, however, Meyers' cheers and boos cost him his job last year.
Meyers, formerly a customer program manager for Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV), says he was asked to resign in September 2002 after someone at AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) complained that his posts were revealing too much about the carrier's evaluation of Corvis for an upcoming contract.
Corvis managers searched his PC at work and found Meyers out to be the infamous "optical_guy" (OG), a figure that many outside of Corvis had come to count on for his no-holds-barred look at the company and its activities.
Message board posters deferred to OG to set the record straight following any kind of Corvis news. Corvis employees, however, became wary that a single message board poster was speaking louder than the company's ailing public relations efforts.
Once OG was unmasked, supposedly at a customer's request, Meyers had to answer for his candor. "[Corvis CEO] Jim Bannantine called me a 'company commander in whom he could no longer trust,' " when the two met to discuss the posts, Meyers says. Following the meeting, OG was told to gather his things and prepare a letter of resignation. [Ed. note: Unconfirmable rumors have it that his sword was also broken and he was stripped of his buttons.]
Light Reading was able to verify with several sources that Meyers had been forced to resign because of his posts. His plight tugs at the question of how much employees of a company are allowed to say about their employer -- and when and in what form they're allowed to say it.
Corvis isn't saying much on the matter.
"It's our policy not to discuss the details of employee departures," says Andy Backman, Corvis's VP of investor relations and public relations.
So what got him into trouble? OG staunchly defended Corvis's technology and products. But he also lambasted David Huber's top-down management style.
"Dave owns a sufficient portion of the company so as to allow him to ignore any criticism or pressure for change," OG wrote in a message posted to Yahoo.com last month. "It is a public corporation whose officers and board should be responsive to the shareholders. However, it is in effect a family business and you and your money are just on for the ride."
Meyers isn't protesting his fate. But he does contest that his posts were damaging to Corvis. "I never posted anything that was proprietary to the company," he insists.
In fact, Meyers feels his comments, while sometimes sharp, were well within his rights as someone who owns a good chunk of Corvis stock. "Do you give up your rights as a shareholder just because you happen to work at a company?" he asks.
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading