Optical/IP Networks

LightCross Taps Former Chromatis CEO

BALTIMORE – NFOEC – Bob Barron, former CEO of optical networking startup Chromatis, former executive at Lucent Technologies, and a minor Light Reading celebrity who had been locked away in the Where Are They Now? file, has finally been found.

To recap: Barron had last been seen stuffing his personal effects into a vehicle on the East Coast and lighting out toward California (see Lucent Metro Boss Leaves).

Now Barron says he has signed on to be CEO of LightCross Inc., an optical components player. He doesn't officially start until September. We gleaned this information after bumping into Barron, who looked tanned, rested, and ready, on the show floor of NFOEC.

Another optical components startup? Barron agreed it's interesting timing. "Yes, we're going to work on differentiating ourselves," he said. Until then, however, he's mum on the LightCross plan.

LightCross is located in Pasadena. According to its Website, the company "has developed proprietary technologies that will enable the use of well-developed silicon IC fabrication equipment and processes to manufacture advanced optical networking components."

The company's technical visionary is Chi Wu, the founder, chief technology officer, and executive vice president, who was at Barron's side in the NFOEC exhibit hall. Wu, who was acting as the CEO before Barron agreed to come on board, was employed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) affiliated with the California Institute of Technology from 1997 to August 2000. At JPL, Dr. Wu managed optical components projects.

LightCross closed $11.3 million of funding last July from venture capital firms ComVentures and Arch Venture Partners, with participation by J.P. Morgan & Co. (Nasdaq: JPM) Capital Partners and several individuals. LightCross has also received $7 million of equipment lease financing from Comdisco Inc. (NYSE: CDO)

Barron's claim to fame is selling Chromatis to Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) for $4.5 billion in the spring of 2000. After Lucent bought Chromatis, Barron became president of Lucent's Metro networking division, since reorganized out of existence.

Metropolitan optical networking is now part of Lucent's overall Optical Networking division, after being temporarily shifted to Lucent's InterNetworking Systems division last fall. Yes, it's confusing. Maybe that's why Barron left. He won't say.

Coincidentally, this week also marks the departure of Lucent executive Jeong H. Kim, Lucent's group president of Optical Networking and one of Barron's former bosses.

Light Reading reported rumors that Kim was on the way out several months ago. At that time, Lucent denied the rumor.

So, Barron's now been found, but Kim's been lost. D'oh!

-- R. Scott Raynovich, Executive Editor, Light Reading

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