Laurel Hires New CEO
Don Pyle joined Laurel's board last year, having left his post as vice president of North American sales at Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) (see Laurel Appoints Board Members). Before Juniper, Pyle had been at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), having joined through the 1996 acquisition of Stratacom.
He replaces Laurel founder Atul Bansal, who remains with the company as president and chief operating officer.
Pyle's hiring is Laurel's way of getting more aggressive with sales now that business is showing signs of life (see En Fuego!). "We wanted to add an executive that had more experience in the sales arena," Pyle says. (He said "we," speaking for the board, rather than royally.)
Extra sales help would be crucial, as competition in the multiservice edge is heating up. In addition to Cisco, Juniper, and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK), Laurel will battle Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) through their respective acquisitions of TiMetra Networks and Vivace Networks. Tellabs also has produced a home-grown multiservice box. (See Alcatel & TiMetra Seal the Deal, Tellabs Snags Vivace for $135M, and Tellabs Unveils Vivace Sibling.)
Coming into 2003, Laurel had two customers and little outside help. Since then, the company has cracked the Korean market with wins at Dacom Corp. and KT Corp., and it's picked up some big-name friends. Laurel signed an OEM deal with Marconi Corp. plc (Nasdaq: MRCIY; London: MONI) and picked up an equity investment and reseller deal with Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN). (See Laurel Dates Dacom, Laurel & Marconi Make It Official, and Ciena Takes Stake in Laurel.)
Those alliances haven't paid huge dividends yet. Marconi has mainly helped with U.S. government contracts, but its routing and switching group may lack the service-provider contacts that Laurel needs, says Kevin Mitchell, analyst with Infonetics Research Inc.
The Ciena deal has yet to bear fruit, but Mitchell thinks it's a promising relationship. "Down the road, Ciena will certainly help them," Mitchell says.
Ciena gives Laurel a link to SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), should that carrier renew its multiservice buildout RFP. The connection is that Ciena acquired WaveSmith Networks, which had won an SBC contract for digital subscriber line (DSL) aggregation. (See Sources: SBC Multiservice RFP Killed, Ciena Nabs WaveSmith, and WaveSmith Wins at SBC.)
Along similar lines, Laurel's name has come up in multiservice edge RFPs from AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) and Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), according to the December installment of Light Reading Insider (see Packets Key to Capex Comeback).
A new area for Laurel could be the DSL space, as the company's added broadband remote access server (B-RAS) capabilities to its ST200 router (see Laurel Intros B-RAS Software). "We're starting to see a lot of opportunities in DSL now," both in Asia and North America, says Steve Vogelsang, Laurel vice president of marketing.
Laurel has managed to hold its headcount steady for the past two years, at about 140 people. New additions have mostly been in sales and other "outward-looking" areas, Pyle says.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading