The first annual Leading Lights Awards Dinner went off last night in predictable Light Reading fashion: filled with plenty of food, drink, and entertainment.
Best of all: We named the winners, and gave out the awards.
The Awards Dinner was the culmination of several weeks of hard work. We received more than 325 awards entries and each entry was read, weighted, researched, discussed, and fussed over. The judging was done by 15 editors and analysts from Light Reading's network of Websites and research products.
Once the initial screening was complete, a list of "contenders" was handed over to an elite panel of judges consisting of: Scott Raynovich, U.S. Editor, Light Reading; Scott Clavenna, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading; Rod Randall, Senior Managing Director, Vesbridge Partners LLC; Steve Levy, Managing Director, Lehman Brothers; and Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading.
After some conference calls and email exchanges, our judging panel came to a consensus in each of the 11 awards categories.
For a complete rundown of the nominees, please check out: Leading Lights Awards Finalists. The winners are as follow...
Kriens, as a speaker, is hard to ignore. He shows up everywhere. But it's his skill in piloting Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) through the economic downturn; his decision to make some big strategic acquisitions; and his emphasis on technical and industry issues, such as Juniper's Infranet Initiative, that made him a Leading Lights winner.
Juniper has indeed stood strong against Cisco. But the company takes home a Leading Lights Award because of its refusal to stand still. Its product line is growing. Its vision is broadening. Its marketing is... well, out there. And, despite its stock price, the company seems destined for more greatness in the future.
The industry said Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) couldn’t build a carrier-class router. But Cisco didn't listen. They built it. We tested it. It really works. It can't be said enough: The CRS-1 is Cisco's most important product in years.
For year's we've heard about the promise of 3G, and finally – finally! – Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is delivering in a big way. With a simultaneous launch in 13 countries and, from what we hear, a killer launch party, Vodafone has made it clear that having a regular mobile phone service just won't cut it anymore. By March 2006, the company expects that more than 10 million customers will be using its 3G services. And that deserves a Leading Light Award.
Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) has always been out there as a mobility powerhouse, but this year the company also stepped up and started aggressively marketing its telecom infrastructure capabilities, where it's quickly making a name for itself with some high-profile wins with major carriers. And the company's work around the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture, or AdvancedTCA , has yielded more than 50 customer seminars, more than 15 conference and Webinar presentations, and a whole pile of press releases and white papers all hammering home the company's early market leadership in this very important area of the telecom equipment market.
In the face of some stiff competition, the panel concluded that Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) had exercised the most wide-ranging and strategically successful M&A strategy in the equipment market. Alcatel’s $150 million acquisition of TiMetra in 2003 has been a big deal to the company's IP and multiservice strategy. But that's not all it's done – it also completed a $27 million acquisition of SIP specialist eDial, the purchase of Spatial Wireless for $250 million, and the purchase of iMagic for $30 million. The company's shown it isn't shy about making a move, and it has been methodical about buying the pieces of the puzzle necessary to build an IP networking powerhouse.
Citron is almost a throw-back to the wild-eyed days of the Internet bubble. Vonage Holdings Corp. closed a $105 million Series D funding round to spend, mostly, on marketing. The company offers a consumer service that is also offered by cable companies, incumbent wireline carriers, and Internet companies with prominent consumer brands. He's on the speed-dial at CNBC. He tosses around 90s-era buzzwords like they're fresh slang. Simply put: This guy stands for his company, and he stands out in a crowd. Even though one judge snidely remarked that you should "watch your wallet" around Citron, he is a Leading Light.
Judges were in agreement that BigBand Networks Inc. has captured a nice market – advanced cable services – and that it's hitting on all cylinders. Revenues are up, the customer base is growing, the product set is impressive, and the financial backing (to $100 million in total) isn't backing down. If that weren't enough, the company has nabbed eight of the top 10 U.S. cable operators as customers.
Acopia Networks Inc. won here because it defines its own category of devices. The company breaks the single-data-center mentality common in storage by allowing control of an entire network of attached storage devices. And, even though there are some big competitors in this space – including Microsoft and NetApp – the ARX series already has landed Warner Music and Merrill Lynch as initial customers, and there are many more on the way.
Not many service providers can say they have 7.7 million users when they're launched, but that's what Skype Technologies SA was able to do with its peer-to-peer VOIP package. Now the service has more than 32 million users – all of them making free calls over the Internet and low-cost calls to traditional land-line numbers. What's truly remarkable about Skype is that when one Skype caller phones another one, they bypass the legacy PSTN network. The application gives us a glimpse of what's possible with true peer-to-peer VOIP communication.
Atrica Inc. helped paved the road for the concept of Carrier-Class Ethernet, really betting the farm on the approach as a product and marketing strategy. Conveniently enough, service providers are now getting serious about Ethernet technology. The judging panel thought this company's approach was unique in that it was the only startup that had helped define a new market.
— The Staff, Light Reading