Optical/IP Networks

The Top Ten Movers and Shakers in Optical Networking

Wanted: Green Thumb

Wu-Fu Chen As any home-grower knows, getting those damn seeds to germinate is one thing; getting the little sprouts through the next few stages is quite another.

That sums up Wu-Fu Chen’s problem. He’s great at seeding startups. In fact, he’s seeded so many that he’s lost count of them all (there were 23 last time we counted). But he’s yet to bring one to the point where it really starts blooming.

In other words, he’s a skilled botanist: But can he garden?

Right now, he’s got a whole bunch of recently germinated startups in his incubator, Acorn Campus. They include LuxNet, Audia Technology, Peak XV, Plato Design, Pine Photonics, Micro Pixels, Photonport, iCrossTrade, IntPax, WebQA, and OnChip, according to Acorn’s Website.

Then he’s got his older progeny out in the field. There’s Anda Networks, Cinta Corp., and Geyser Networks Inc. And there’s OptiMight Communications Inc., Santera Systems Inc., and ZettaCom Inc..

None of them, however, has actually made it into the big time. Anda has come closest, filing for a $100 million IPO last August and then quietly withdrawing just before Christmas (see Anda Networks Withdraws IPO Filing).

Others appear to be struggling along. Geyser’s “platform to maximize bandwidth efficiency in the metro space” is too much of a me-too product and has suffered (mis)management problems (see Geyser Reduces Staff, Geyser: Third Time Lucky?, and Geyser Out of Steam). And Cinta has stayed in stealth mode for so long that it’s raising suspicions (see Cinta's Strange Story).

Wu-Fu Chen’s prettiest plants are Optimight and Zettacom, which isn’t saying much. Optimight has a Raman-less way of doing ultra-long haul (see OptiMight Details Long-Haul Box and Raman Risks Emerge ), and Zettacom is touting its next-gen switching silicon (see ZettaCom Advances With ZEST (& ZEN). Both of them, however, face heavyweight competition, and the jury’s still out on their technology.

The big question, really, isn’t which Wu-Fu Chen startup will blossom first; it’s which will be the first to wither on the vine.

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