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Corvis Deletes Message Poster

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
2/21/2003

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

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aaaaaaptics
aaaaaaptics
12/5/2012 | 12:35:58 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
thanks for all your honest posts. i wish you well in the future.
lite-brite
lite-brite
12/5/2012 | 12:35:57 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
Good luck OG.
LB
Dr.Q
Dr.Q
12/5/2012 | 12:35:56 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
Two years ago some upper level corporate types at Agere got pissed off at some posts to LightReading that seemed to come from an Agere insider. They were able to sift through logs of outgoing emails and determined that the posts had come from a particular employee, who was abruptly terminated. [Said employee disputes Agere's version of events.]

Moral -- be CAREFUL what communications you send on company networks.

by the way, Why did it take 5 months for OpticalGuy's story to come out?

-Dr. Q
DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 12:35:56 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
OG is still posting...

His most recent post calls for a correction in a LR headline:

http://www.lightreading.com/bo...

And here he is not confirming or denying anything related to Corning and Corvis:

http://www.lightreading.com/bo...
bsd_devil
bsd_devil
12/5/2012 | 12:35:55 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
Where-ever you are OG, keep up your great work. You are the best of the best. You deserve the best and you will get the best.

Kudos to OG!
LightBeating
LightBeating
12/5/2012 | 12:35:54 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
I think OG must have been aware of the risk of posting messages as an insider. Sticking to technical stuff would probably have been OK, but when you start criticizing your boss... not a very good idea IMHO ! Of course, as a shareholder, he's entitled to criticize the company, but as an insider, there's a fine line that's very dangerous to cross...

I'm a former Corvis myself, but never posted anything on them while I worked there, and acted the same when I worked for another company, which would have deserved a lot of criticism. Even now, I do restrain myself in what I say about my experience at Corvis. But that's my choice. OG was taking a chance with his posts and he knew it. I'm not saying he got what he deserved, but it's certainly not unexpected.

That being said, companies should be clear with their employees about what their policy is. Message boards are a new reality that needs to be dealt with.

LB

gea
gea
12/5/2012 | 12:35:54 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
OG actually seemed to have a friggin' clue, which is not true of a lot of the newbies in optical networking these days.

Not a good sign that they ditched him. I'm not convinced he did anything worth terminating him for--saying that Huber was pretty much in control is well known in the industry. (And what's more, that might actually be seen by some as a good sign.)

So they had a knowledgeable, objective, well-spoken guy who was realistic about Corvis but who also believed in the basics of the product...and they fired him. Ah well. Maybe I should sell off my Corvis stock...it's an absurd long shot anyway.
DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 12:35:54 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
Can you contact me with the details?

We'd like to continue running stories about these instances where employee opinions cross with employer policies.

You can reach me at [email protected]

BTW -- This story took a while because I'm lazy.

ph
gina
gina
12/5/2012 | 12:35:53 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
This is not a good news for Stephen Meyers. Corvis had the right to fire him, but Lightreading shouldn't have revealed his real name. He would never get a good job
after this story. I am sorry for the guy. He was punished twice. And the second punishment was unfair. I hope Stephen has enough money to survive.
crapshooter
crapshooter
12/5/2012 | 12:35:53 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster
Dr. Q. brings up a very good point. I would suggest that anyone who is afraid that their posts may cost them trouble at work, set up a second LR user ID at home. Better still, set this up at home through a hotmail email address and only use it for posting on LR. I have done this and have my "alter" LR user ID ready to go.

I smell a layoff comin' with my name on it and, when that happens, get ready for some of the most sensational posts you've ever seen. I will show you fear in a handful of dust. (Forgive me, Eng Lit 101 flashback.)
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