Solinet Gets CEO From Cisco
Solinet Systems Inc., a Canadian stealth-mode startup formed by ex-Nortel engineers, has appointed a chief executive officer -- Scott Marshall, former group VP of Service Provider Access and New World Carrier Services Groups at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).
The announcement is interesting on several counts. First, it signals a major step forward for Solinet, which up to now has been in strict stealth mode. While the company's still keeping mum about what it's up to, saying only that it's developing optical transport gear for long-haul networks, Marshall says his appointment signals the start of a general coming-out process.
He says there will probably be a second round of funding sometime in the not-too-distant future. The first round in June 2000 was $15 million from Canada's Altamira Financial Services as well as Bessemer Venture Partners and WorldView Technology Partners.
Marshall's appointment also highlights a trend at Solinet -- to hire executives who are seeking to get away from traditional networking companies. Back in August, Solinet made headlines for enticing away a slew of engineers who'd been working on long-haul projects at Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) (see Is Trouble Brewing in Ottawa?). In October, Solinet again drew attention by attracting Andy Wright, formerly chief technologist, optical networking, from Williams Communications Group (NYSE: WCG) (see Williams Loses Key Staff ).
Marshall fits the mold: He was only at Cisco for a year and a half, joining in August 1999, a year after having been dismissed in a management shakeup at Newbridge Networks Corp., now owned by Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA).
Marshall was reportedly one of the first engineers at Newbridge and helped founder Terence Mathews build the business. He spent four years heading up the product management team, then six years in charge of R&D. In January 2000, he told a reporter at Canadian newspaper The Ottawa Citizen that "I went with Cisco in the end because it was going to give me experience I didn't have. I'd already done a startup -- it was called Newbridge."
Apparently, the startup bug's bitten again. "Cisco was an excellent opportunity, but I thought it might be interesting to be a CEO," he says.
That Marshall and others have left top jobs at industry-leading companies also speaks to their awareness that next-generation optical networking is taking off, and big companies aren't necessarily guaranteed a seat on the bus. This trend was thrown into bold relief last week when Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) raised its pro forma earnings expectations on the same day Nortel lowered its guidance dramatically (see Ciena: What Slowdown? and Nortel's Nasty Surprise).
-- Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com