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Optical/IP

Headcount: A Pox on Petaluma?

What exactly is in the water in Petaluma, Calif., these days?

Alcatel SA's Petaluma plant has cut staff and ceased development on a next-generation digital loop carrier (see Alcatel Cancels New Litespan DLC).

Mahi Networks Inc. has undergone a restructuring (details below).

Advanced Fibre Communications Inc. (AFC), once the telecom heavyweight in the area, now reports to Naperville, Ill., and there have been no details yet on whether the company will start shedding redundant jobs (see Tellabs & AFC: Together at Last!).

And the local Starbucks still hasn't hired a 200-person super staff, which one message board monkey predicted back in '02. Wonder what happened there?

If you have any ideas why the region seems so turbulent these days, please opine on the message boards below. And don't take the word "turbulent" as your cue to start with the earthquake jokes.

Meanwhile, we'll get on with the business of reporting the most interesting telecom industry hirings and firings of the past several days.

  • Optical transport and switching vendor Mahi Networks shed roughly half its workforce last Wednesday, sources close to the company say. Mahi won't call us back, but a spokesperson from Mahi’s venture capital partner, Vesbridge Partners LLC, confirmed that a “restructuring” had taken place but declined further comment.

    Multiple sources reported as many as 80 employees were cut. Others affected by the layoff worked in the Piscataway, N.J., plant of Photuris, which Mahi acquired in June, a source says. Heavy Reading analyst Scott Clavenna characterizes Mahi as a startup with solid management and good products trying to tread water while the market for those products slowly matures. The layoffs, of course, are a way of shedding weight to stay afloat longer, he says. “The products are very mature and well-tested. Everything we’ve looked at shows that there is a demand for them, but with carriers there is a gap between the need and the will to write the check…"

  • Ethernet-gear startup Covaro Networks Inc. cut its staff down to 75 from 90 in late November, a company spokeswoman told Light Reading. Covaro didn't give much more explanation than its prepared statement, which said the layoffs are meant to align headcount with "current revenue expectations for the coming year." It's unclear whether the hardware division was particularly hard hit, as rumored.

  • Hammerhead Systems Inc. has a new CEO -- former Hatteras Networks Inc. chief Peter Savage. “Pete Savage understands the economic and technical challenges service providers face as they transition their networks to MPLS," says Bill Stensrud of Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, one of Hammerhead's investors. "Hammerhead’s investors have long-standing relationships with Pete and full confidence in his ability to lead the company."

    The VC statement stopped just short of saying that it's finally got a reason to believe in Hammerhead (again). The edge switch startup has already seen several high-level executive changes since announcing a $25 million funding round 11 months ago (see Hammerhead Adds VP Sales, Hammerhead Founder Steps Aside, and Hammerhead Nails $25M). Not many customers, though. And, of course, we're not suggesting that money changes people…

  • Mindspeed Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: MSPD) is the latest company to halt network processor development. During its most recent conference call, Mindspeed officials said they're looking to sell off their network processor division, numbering about 75 employees.

    If a sale doesn't happen, they'll trim the team back to "maintenance mode" staffing of 25 to 30, a spokesman says. Either way, Mindspeed won't be developing more network processors but will support the chips already being sold, including its most recent issue, the TSP3 line. Mindspeed also shut down a 20-employee Israel R&D center that was working on Sonet chips, one of a few Israel chip closures lately (see AMCC to Lay Off 150). Mindspeed does not have an office in Petaluma.

  • Verilink Corp. (Nasdaq: VRLK) has just hired Timothy R. Anderson as its VP and CFO. Anderson arrived fresh from Carrier Access Corp. (Nasdaq: CACS), where he had worked for eight years (see Verilink Hires New CFO). The scuttlebutt around that move is that Anderson wanted to get to a place where he could have a shot at being the CEO someday, an occurrence that wasn't likely to happen at Carrier Access, where the top two executives are married to each other and own about 40 percent of the company.

  • VOIP equipment vendor Veraz Networks Inc. has installed a new CEO: Douglas A. Sabella. Sabella's previous gigs include being COO of Terayon Communication Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: TERN), and 15 years at various posts at Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU). Tal Simchony, the former Veraz CEO, will "assume a strategic role where he will continue to help Veraz maintain its role as a leading provider of carrier-class, next-generation packet telephony solutions," according to a company statement. In other words, he'll be at home in his pajamas, playing X-box, and text-messaging everyone in his fantasy football league.


We wrap up, as usual, with a summary of other industry appointments and disappointments from the past few days:

Please keep those news tips coming to [email protected].

— Phil "Petaluma? What's a Luma?" Harvey, News Editor; Mark Sullivan, Reporter; and Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

rbkoontz 12/5/2012 | 1:00:48 AM
re: Headcount: A Pox on Petaluma? Oh man, I'm reading that MONKEY's message post linked to the story above and thinking - how can someone be so bitter?? Ouch! Then I notice it was me!!! 2 years ago almost to the day. I mean, it was poetic, prophetic and all but someone must've peed in my starbucks coffee that night to get me that ticked.

I am certainly older and wiser now - not!
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