Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO

Where Jim Fultz goes, acquisitions seem to follow.

Since the end of 2000, Fultz has been appointed CEO of two different startups, both of which were sold (ka-ching!) within a year of his arrival. Now the serial CEO has shown up at core optical switching startup AcceLight Networks Inc. So, does this mean the company is on the selling block?

“You sound like the staff when I first got here three weeks ago,” says Fultz. “They thought Darth Vader had just arrived. But the truth is that we have no intention of selling the company and there hasn’t even been any discussion of it.”

Fultz made similar comments after arriving at Zaffire Inc. in December 2000, coming from a role as vice president of sales and marketing at Antec Corp. (see Zaffire: 'We're not for Sale', Zaffire Names New CEO). Fultz was the third CEO appointed to the top post at Zaffire within six months, and the executive shuffling sparked rumors that the company was for sale. Fultz wholeheartedly denied those claims. Then Centerpoint Broadband Technologies Inc., another privately held company, bought Zaffire for an undisclosed amount in early July 2001 (see Centerpoint Scoops Up Zaffire).

“When I talked to you for that story on Zaffire, we really didn’t have any intention of selling the company,” he says. “But as the year went on, it became clear that was the best strategy for everyone involved.”

Unfortunately the acquisition hasn’t helped Centerpoint, which now appears to be on the brink of collapse (see New Wave of Startup Layoffs).

Fultz’s next startup and acquisition got off to a much more promising start. After leaving Zaffire in July, Fultz became CEO of Scion Photonics Inc., a components startup focusing on waveguide technology, in October 2001 (see Scion Picks Fultz). Seven months later, the company was bought by JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) for $43 million (see JDSU Posts Loss, Buys Startup).

There has been some speculation recently that AcceLight could be in hibernation (see Bear Market Inspires Hibernation). Since it announced "the world's first photonic service switch" last year, not much has been heard from the company: It still hasn’t officially announced the product or any customers, and it even bowed out of this year’s Supercomm tradeshow.

Fultz denies these rumors, countering that AcceLight is currently raising its third round of funding. The last round closed in November 2001, to the tune of $60 million in equity and debt financing (see AcceLight Scores Major Change). Fultz says it's still too early to disclose any details about the new funding, but he claims it should be enough to sustain the company’s burn rate through 2004. The company currently employs some 215 people, split between its facilities in Pittsburgh and Ottawa.

Fultz also says the company is in its second phase of trials with a key Asian carrier. It's also targeting similar trials in three North American, non-RBOC carriers. The product itself combines TDM, packet and lambda switching with GMPLS signaling into one box. Its primary competition comes from other optical switch vendors such as Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR), and Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA).

Fultz swears he's finished with the acquisition scene (at least for the moment). After his stint as Scion, he says he spent five and a half months looking for a startup he could “take to the finish line." However, he has also hinted that in the long run, AcceLight could be dressing itself up for suitors.

“Carl Russo taught me early on that if you don’t have boxes in the sales channel, your value is limited,” he says. “Companies that are research-driven are a difficult sell to shareholders. Unless a company has a commercially viable product, it doesn’t make sense to buy it. That’s why we are doing it this way.”

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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kp9988 12/4/2012 | 9:52:24 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO Check out this link: "Christ Comes to Zaffire" http://www.lightreading.com/do...

"Christ" may Come to AcceLight.
BBBoa 12/4/2012 | 9:52:21 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO This guy has never built a company in his life. He's barely good at dis-assembling companies and selling them off. You can find a just-graduated MBA student to do what this guy does, for about 1/4 of the price. He's an Enron/Worldcom CEO/CFO wannabe, cut from the same cloth.

Fultz is very good at cutting deals in order to line his own pockets at the expense of the employees. If I were at Accelight, I'd be looking for a new job. Jim Fultz is out to make money for himself off of YOUR hard work; and you'll be left with absolutely nothing. That's a promise.

Signed: One of many former Zaffire employees
fuppower 12/4/2012 | 9:52:18 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO Fultz is a well-known big liar not only to those loyal employees but also to the customers. People in Zaffire all knew those facts but too late to change! It's VERY funny that there's still a stupid company would hire this kind of jerk!! Another big mistake, believe it or not!

He will for sure bring in his loser team (spending lots of company expenses) to secure his position to prevent future political chaos when employees/boards find out sooner or later he's totally not qualified for running CEO!!

What a shame on him to use same dirty tricks to 'cheat and screw up' another company for his own interests!! That's also why Amiercan IT industry got so pissed/flat now as many board guys don't know how to learn from valuable lessons but just wanna kiss BS!!

USA 12/4/2012 | 9:52:10 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO Excuse me while I barf after reading this article. Fultz must have paid LR a ton to get this favorable of an article. (Maybe Janie offered some of her 'wares')

He had a chance to sell Zaffire and blew it because he wanted to make more money for himself. He got fired from Scion and now these suckers picked him up.

Word to the wise - Dear Accelight employee, run while you can. This guy will screw you royally.
ZZbottom 12/4/2012 | 9:52:06 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO Well, the Scion slint does not really support the LR's hinting that Fultz is the guy who is brought in to sell a company. He was hired by Scion to brought in money. Well, he did not succeed in that, instead he brought in his sales team which had not sell any. He had to leave the company and did not lead it thought the acquisition.

I'd second previous poster's warnings: if you are at AcceLight, look for a new job. This guy is a liar and full of motivational crap and nothing else. He can not lead. What your board was thinking about, are they that easy to fool? Hiring somebody with a track record of screw ups????
kp9988 12/4/2012 | 9:52:04 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO After read this thread, I talked to a friend who used to work for Zaffire. He mentioned that Foltz gave his "comrades" over 400,000 shares/each. At that time, the price was $5.00/share. The gang of five spelled only four letters GǣC-A-T-VGǥ on a white board and did not sell anything.

Surprised? may be not.
solelythetruth 12/4/2012 | 9:52:01 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO Fultzy is mediocre from a managerial standpoint, and incompetent from both technical and financial perspectives.

How he got away with it? HeGs a charlatan. Anybody that worked with him knows that.

Because it takes five minutes to see through him, his talk is also ineffective to land any sales.

It is terribly sad that Accelight performed such a poor due-diligence.

Wish Accelight lots of good luck. They will need every bit of it while heGs around.
52668 12/4/2012 | 9:52:01 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO ZZbottom wrote: What your board was thinking about, are they that easy to fool? Hiring somebody with a track record of screw ups????

He may screw up the employee but not the board. And who knows if this is what the board looking for.
ZZbottom 12/4/2012 | 9:52:00 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO Where you guys (Zaffirers) were a year ago when Scion hired Fultz???


Only a couple of mild warnings about him bringing in buddies and a congrats post from birdieking,(probably) one of the Scion's top managers (was it you, Murali?), to cheer up the employees...
jane_doe 12/4/2012 | 9:51:57 PM
re: Fultz Joins AcceLight as CEO What did this Fultz do before 1998-1999?
Did he come up on the data networking side of the business?
It would be interesting to see hear about his work history, in anyone knows, to understand how this rising star has accomplished his successes.
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