Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO

Metro optical gear provider Metro-Optix Inc. announced Wednesday that David Orr has been named its new president and CEO (see Metro-Optix Names CEO). Any clues for what Orr may bring? In the last four years, he's been involved in two corporate restructurings, including taking a company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. But he's also piloted a big company -- Alcatel Network Systems -- on its way to becoming an industry heavyweight.

Orr was president and CEO of Pliant Systems (formerly BroadBand Technologies), a company selling DSL access gear, from April 1997 to July 2001. In 1999 the company was restructured, shedding its BroadBand Technologies name and product strategy. Pliant filed for Chapter 11 in May 2001 and, after mPhase Technologies (OTC: XDSL) refused to acquire the company, it closed late in 2001.

Orr replaces Arun Bellary, who will become Metro-Optix's executive chairman and will return to California to spend more time with his family.

"My experience at Pliant was a stressful one, as we tried to raise money and retire the company's debt," says Orr. "What I learned is that you can have a lot of things going your way -- technology, development, customers -- but how the company is financed and what its balance sheet looks like end up being as important as a company's technical advantage."

Prior to Pliant, Orr was the president and CEO of Alcatel Network Systems. He came to Alcatel Network Systems when Alcatel merged with Rockwell International's Transmission Systems Division, where Orr was a vice president and general manager. (Orr's replacement at Alcatel was Krish Prabhu, now a Morgenthaler Ventures partner and Westwave Communications board member.)

Orr says he wasn't brought in to restructure or sell the company. "I've been brought in to help the company grow," he says. Orr says the company has enough momentum with big and small carriers that it will soon start ramping up in size and revenues to go from a 275-person startup to a much larger company.

"We haven't had any major cutbacks or anything, and that's because of our customer traction and because we're moving ahead," says Bellary.

"They have the opportunity to scale the business, and that's why Dave Orr was such an attraction," says David Britts, general partner with J.P. Morgan & Co., a Metro-Optix investor. "He's done this all before."

Metro-Optix hasn't announced any marquee customers, but it does -- like many other equipment vendors -- have some equipment in trials at large carriers (see Qwest Tests Metro-Optix and Metro-Optix Lures WorldCom, Genuity). Orr's job will be to help the company get from tryouts to signed contracts.

Orr's starting salary at BroadBand Technologies in 1997 was $350,000 a year, according to SEC filings. He also got a $4 million signing bonus when he joined BroadBand, which Pliant recently paid him upon his departure. There's no telling what he's making at Metro-Optix, but he probably didn't come cheap. It's safe to assume that Metro-Optix wouldn't spend so much of its funding on executive compensation unless it knew something big was on the way.

"[Orr] did his own due diligence and he voted with his feet," says Britts.

Metro-Optix has raised about $136 million since the company's founding in December 1999. Bellary says there's enough remaining to last the company through the rest of 2002.

Orr says Metro-Optix's growth now will be "a matter of timing relative to the capex situation improving." He adds that so far the company has invested in all the right things -- Osmine certification, for one -- to be in a good position when carriers begin to spend more freely (see Report: Multiservice Is In).

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
optical 12/4/2012 | 11:04:06 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO Dave Orr is a good man, but he really must be desparate towards the end of his career to take on this Metro-Optix gig. These guys have a product that just doesn't work and it is way over priced when compared to other next gen platforms. This is a dog that won't be around a year from today.
lightbuster 12/4/2012 | 11:04:01 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO The inside news ... company has a VT/ATM product but no customers.. and thier series-C dries out in August...Layoffs in the offing....one more to bite the dust...
partical man 12/4/2012 | 11:03:58 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO Mr. Orr didn't know what was going on at BBT!!
He had no clue.
HarveyMudd 12/4/2012 | 11:03:57 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO A lot of employees in the management cadre, including David Orr, come from Alcatel. Alcatel was a heavy weight without Mr. Orr. It is no qualification to lead Pilant of which Orr was President and CEO, into bankruptcy.

The qualifications of Arun Bllary are not widely known. Metro_optix may have gotten funding at a time when a mere mention of the name optical was good enough get funding.

Metro_optix does not have carrier grade products, consequently selling its products to carriers or being acquired by another company are not very good. The company may be forced to close.

Carriers do not buy products from a start-up company.Metro-Optix does not have any credibility in the market place.

The story bejind trials, even if true, is meaningless as MCIWorldcom and QWEST try evey product that has ever been made.

Unfortunately some start-ups resort to changing their CEOs thinking that this would generate a lot of interest akin to what happens when the head coach is fired.

There ios nothing in Metro-optix that makes it attractive to the carriers or investors.
nasdaq 12/4/2012 | 11:03:57 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO Well,Iam really skeptical about your "inside news".
I heard a different story altogether. Word is that its making gaint strides with Biggies like
Worldcom, Verizon and really close to striking a huge deal. I think LR has a valid point about metro-optix hiring big names like Mr. Orr they may well be on their way to glory.
rFroese 12/4/2012 | 11:03:53 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO How much are they asking for their box anyway? How over priced are they? Does anyone know?
trends 12/4/2012 | 11:03:53 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO I've been lurking for a while, and I have one question. Does "HarveyMudd" ever positively comment about anything? Here's a chance. What/Who DO you like in the telecom/datacom space? (No self-praise allowed.)

rickaty 12/4/2012 | 11:03:52 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO The only way they have a year of money left is if they bring in a significant amount of revenue. Their current costs will not allow them to survive for a full year without the revenue side of the equation. I wish them good luck in 2002.
PrivateCEO 12/4/2012 | 11:03:51 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO Carriers don't buy from start-ups? Tell that to Juniper, Redback, Ciena, Cerent (even before Cisco, AFC and others.

And Orr was instrumental in Alcatel acquiring the Rockwell Transmission businesses in 1993 and building their North American presence into a good business before he left. David is indeed a good man who inspires loyalty in his team. And Pliant had the oppressive debt load before Orr arrived. Some issues just can't be managed out of.
broadbandboy 12/4/2012 | 11:03:48 PM
re: Metro-Optix Drafts New CEO Here is a little of what I know about M-O.

Bellary was involved with Optilink, acquired by DSC, so he knows something about building SONET boxes. Others came out of Ericsson.

I heard M-O was in at Genuity, but that was a while ago, so I don't know if it came through or not.

The fact that they are getting rid of Bellary indicates things are not going well, but the ability to attract someone like Orr is a plus, especially if they want to sell out to Alcatel.

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Sign In