Optical/IP Networks

Sycamore: The Great Nothing

"Just How do you do it, Pooh?"
"Do What?" asked Pooh.
"Become so effortless."
"I don't do much of anything," he said.
"But all those things of yours get done."
"They just sort of happen," he said.

The Tao of Pooh

Oh, Sycamore, where have you gone? You have done so much, yet accomplished so little. You have climbed the mountain of bubblefied stock prices, engaged in frivolous acquisition, dabbled in the sins of government contract work, plunged into long years of meditation, and now you may finally emerge in a blinding light of revelation... to trade on the OTC (see Sycamore Gets Delisting Notice and Will Sycamore Call It a Day?).

Such work in nothingness has yielded good results: A tour of the netherworlds of the OTC stock markets. What fun! Does your curiosity never cease? You can mingle with the charming chaps hanging out down there, like the good folks from >Ultrafem Inc.

If you're not sure what happens down there among the shades, you can only imagine. As Nasdaq says of the OTC, it's the land of stock touts and pump-and-dump schemes: "Most touted stocks are infrequently traded, not well known, and can move up or down in price quickly. They are usually quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) or in the Pink Sheets." (See Stock Spams and Scams.)

Is this the path toward Enlightenment, Sycamore?

Silly us, for thinking you might actually do something. Funny how even your strange IPO peer Corvis has moved on to new terrain -- and done something (see Corvis Splits for Broadwing).

While your shareholders curse this plight, many of your executives — both former and active — have done well. They sit with millions in the bank, snugly ensconced in McMansions on the New England seacoast, happy to have left your path many years ago, when the stock was still trading in triple digits. For many, enlightenment comes in the form of granite countertops and 12-burner Viking stoves.

It's been five years since the bubble popped. Industry-wide, capital spending trends hit bottom almost two years ago. We've been waiting all along, believing your story that you might eventually do something with all those piles of Benjamins — which have continued to shrink over the years.

But apparently, all along, you had a deeper dedication to... nothing.

Maybe you will finally melt into the Earth and become one with Everything, the great pile of networking dead, reaching a higher plane of existence with the likes of Wellfleet, Xros, and Charlotte's Network.

Or perhaps the epic quest for nothingness might finally end with the ultimate networking nothing -- an acquisition by Lucent. Such is the Tao of packets and wavelengths. You would join the souls of Ascend Communications and your predecessor, Cascade Communications, to complete the great cycle of networking life.

Go there now Sycamore: It is the Way.

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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