The industry has been buzzing with speculation about the location of Rich McGinn, former CEO of beleagured Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), after he left Lucent in late 2000 (see McGinn: McGone) and Where Are They Now?). Had he fled to the golf industry? Taken up residency in Costa Rica?
McGinn has popped up with a new job as senior advisor at Manhattan-based venture capital firm RRE Ventures.
In an exclusive phone interview with Light Reading, McGinn sounded ready to start afresh. In fact, he sounded downright perky… as if he hadn't even been at the helm of one of America's most widely-held public technology companies when it lost more than $100 billion in market capitalization.
How’s life in the venture capital business?
”It’s great,” said McGinn. “You know, I had 30 years in the communications industry, and 29 of those were great. This is totally different.”
McGinn, already living comfortably off a multimillion-dollar golden parachute from Lucent (see Fat Cats Feast, Despite Layoffs), will now be scoping out potential investments in the enterprise software market. But McGinn’s McMum on the names of any of the private companies he’s looking at. “I just arrived here, so I don’t really know [the specifics],” he said. He’s been working at RRE for one month.
So what about what’s happening across the Hudson river, where Lucent Chairman Henry Schacht is working on restoring Lucent to profitability? McGinn didn’t have too much to say about LU.
”I’m not close to it. I don’t have any tidbits.”
Did he have any regrets about what happened at Lucent?
”Not really. What I can say is the industry is in a strong downward cycle and it’s long-term. The scope of competitors has changed. If you look at the way financing has been pulled from alternative carriers, the vast majority of them are going to be removed. Given the economy, you’re in for a long period. We’re going to see a quiet period for a while.”
Indeed, the CLEC catastrophe was a contributor to McGinn’s ouster at Lucent. McGinn’s legacy was an aggressive strategy of lending to startup carriers that wanted to buy his Lucent gear -- and these large vendor financing activities figured prominently in Lucent’s financial debacle when the telecom market later collapsed.
So what’s different about enterprise software? McGinn believes it’s at the heart of productivity in corporate American, and is thus a good investment prospect.
”It’s an important place where companies are looking for productivity from their employees with software tools."
Yes indeed. And now it will be interesting to track the productivity of Richard McGinn, the newly minted venture-capital advisor.
— R. Scott Raynovich, Executive Editor, Light Reading