Procket Faces Tough CEO Search
Since Randall Kruep stepped down from his post at the company last week, Paul Matteucci, a partner with U.S. Venture Partners, has taken over as interim CEO (see Procket CEO Resigns). The company says it has already begun a search for a permanent replacement.
Frank Dzubeck, president of consulting firm Communications Network Architects, has a few ideas about who might be good for the job.
Top on his list is David House, the ex-Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) president who took the helm at Allegro Networks, an edge routing startup (see Allegro Holds a House Party ). House has been, er... without title, since Allegro went out of business back in March (see Headcount: I'll Strike if You Fire Me!).
"It's a difficult economic environment for any startup," Dzubeck says. "Dave did a good job with Allegro. He really knows how to handle the technical people."
Dzubeck says Procket might also consider some big names at big companies, including Mike Quigley, president of Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) North America; Larry Lang, VP and general manager of Cisco Systems Inc.'s mobile wireless division; Richard Palmer, VP and general manager of Cisco's VPN and security services group; and Jayshree Ullal, senior VP of Cisco's optical networking group.
Dzubeck's favorite -- and probably the least likely candidate -- is Jim Dolce, who was CEO of Unisphere Networks and is now executive vice president of worldwide field operations at Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) (see Redback's Barsema to Lead Startup).
“What Procket needs at this stage is someone who actually has taken a private company’s gear to market and has had general management responsibility,” says Andy Price, a partner with Schweichler Associates, the recruiting firm that placed John Morgridge and John Chambers at Cisco.
Price, a Procket investor who recruited the company's first outside executive, says Dennis Barsema, the former CEO of Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) is another good candidate (see The Face of the New Juniper). “They need someone who has actually ramped revenue and successfully led a company,” he says.
Procket is keeping quiet about the search and the list of potential candidates. “I can’t comment specifically,” says Ben Gibson, a spokesman for Procket. “But it will be a careful and thorough search.”
Identifying prospects is the easy part. Convincing someone to take the job of guiding the company and settling the internal rifts that led to Kruep's departure is quite another. During Kruep's final days at Procket, rumors zipped around the industry about the tensions between the company's engineers, Tony Li in particular, and its executive managers.
Adverse market conditions also might discourage a potential Procket CEO. The core router market is currently a two-horse race, and it doesn’t look as though that will change anytime soon. Other startups have tried to crack the core and have failed (see IronBridge Has Fallen Down and Pluris Shutdown Confirmed).
Even large companies like Alcatel are making slow progress (see Alcatel Bids for IP Core). Earlier this week, Juniper announced that it would be deploying its edge and core IP routing gear in the Telecom New Zealand Ltd. network (see Juniper Wins Telecom New Zealand). Alcatel, which has been chosen as the systems integrator for the network, did not win any business in this account for its IP core router, the 7770 OBX.
Alcatel’s struggles indicate that Procket will have a difficult time selling to major U.S. carriers without a partnership. Most recently, Procket was rumored to be cozying up to Nortel (see Will Nortel Pick Procket? ). But with the current management uncertainty, it’s likely that a potential deal could be delayed or called off.
— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading