Optical/IP Networks

The Top Ten Movers and Shakers in Optical Networking

The Comeback Kid

Kevin Kalkhoven Kevin Kalkhoven is the first to extricate himself from the dreaded Has-Been Bin and get a second term as a Mover and Shaker. (Noam Lotan take note: It can be done.)

Kalkhoven was binned after he quit his job as CEO of JDS Uniphase Inc. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) last May and disappeared into the sunset, talking about restarting his motor-racing career and doing more flying, skiing, and scuba diving.

He ended doing all of those energetic-sounding things and taking another crack at being a big gun. And although it’s way too early to say whether Kalkhoven is going to succeed, you've got to wonder at his pendulous spheroids.

Kalkhoven’s first crack at being a big gun proved astoundingly successful. He and his pals at Uniphase, a boring gas laser maker, recognized the need for an independent manufacturer of optical components and set out on a worldwide acquisition binge to achieve that goal.

As we all now know, Kalkhoven succeeded in a very big way. He also managed to engineer his departure from JDSU at a choice moment – a few months before everything optical started going sour (a development that he says he also saw coming).

Now, Kalkhoven’s back on a positive track, saying that telecom access networks are going to undergo a revolution in the next five years. And he’s putting his money where his mouth is, by founding and investing in startups developing technologies in this field (see Kalkhoven's Five-Year Plan).

So far, his investments include Blaze Network Products Inc. (which is already OEMing components to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) in an unannounced deal), Iolon Inc., Innovance Networks, and WaveSplitter Technologies Inc. Others are in the pipeline.

When Kalkhoven told Light Reading about his plans in April, he drew a pretty skeptical response from users of this site. One of them noted that JDSU is now having to "amputate" some of Kalhoven’s "mistakes" (see yea huh). Another charged Kalkhoven with indulging in "a big ego play" that failed to recognize today’s totally different business climate (see dreaming away).

"I wish I’d kept my mouth shut now," Kalkhoven said recently (by chance, he phoned Light Reading as this was being written). Au contraire, we say. Let it all hang out.

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