Optical/IP Networks

Leading Lights Smackdown

4:15 PM -- SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- It didn't get into blood, guts, and hair pulling, but some nice trash talking came out during the Leading Lights acceptance speeches here last night. (See LR Names 2006 Leading Lights.)

"It's the first year we've had a real smackdown," said Scott Clavenna, Heavy Reading chief analyst and awards MC. Maybe next year we'll announce two winners per category and make them fist-fight for the coveted hunk of plastic that is the Leading Lights trophy.

It started when Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) won the best public-company marketing award, accepted by VP Jeff "Bruiser" Spagnola. He described sitting at last year's awards in New York, awaiting Cisco's victory in public-company marketing... and instead seeing it go to Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) for IMS.

"And I said: 'IMS? Nobody even sells anything in IMS! How can it be that good?' " Spagnola told the crowd. He also thanked LR for "recognizing a player that sells a lot of equipment." Think for a second about what that implies about Lucent. (Crowd: "Oooooo...")

Spagnola apparently gave an equally ESPN-appropriate interview for the video crew, but we gutter-dwelling print-media scrubs haven't gotten to see it yet.

Getting into the spirit of things, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) threw in a dig after winning for its MX960 Ethernet box. "Thank you for recognizing the greatest Ethernet services vendor," Juniper VP Shailesh "Mad Dog" Shukla said. (Crowd: "Ohhhhh...")

A promising start, but that's about as far as it went. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) didn't use the podium to dig at each other, not even when U-Verse beat out FiOS.

Elsewhere, Cedar Point Communications Inc. won the coveted "Top IPO or M&A candidate" award. Which, given the last two winners, probably means they'll be neither IPO'ed nor acquired by this time next year. (See 2005 Leading Lights: Where Are They Now?)

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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