Whyte Quits Net.com

One of the telecom industry's most colorful characters, Bert Whyte, has resigned as CEO of equipment vendor Network Equipment Technologies Inc. (net.com) (NYSE: NWK). (See Whyte Quits as Net.com CEO.)

He has been replaced on an interim basis by C. Nicholas Keating, Jr., who has been a Net.com director since 2001.

A spokesman for the vendor said there was no further comment at this stage, and 54-year-old Whyte was unavailable for comment this morning (as he was asleep in California). It is thought he doesn't have another industry position lined up.

Whyte's resignation comes less than a week after the company reported a drop in revenues and a net loss in its first fiscal quarter (see Net.com Reports Q1 Results). That news sent the firm's share price down by more than 13 percent last Thursday to $4.78. The stock stood at $4.57 at the close of trading yesterday (Tuesday July 19), just 12 cents off its 12-month low.

That fall in revenues followed a change in product strategy at Net.com, with a focus more on next-generation systems for enterprise and government users (see Net.com: Back to the Enterprise).

Whyte joined Net.com as president and CEO in June 1999 and propelled the company towards the broadband aggregation and service creation sector, though sales of the company's Scream B-RAS (broadband remote aggregation server) technology never quite matched its technical potential (see Net.com Turns Up Scream).

Previously he had restructured and doubled sales at remote access equipment firm Advanced Computer Communications (ACC), which was acquired by Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY) in September 1998 for $285 million.

Prior to ACC, the outspoken Brit was general manager of access products at Newbridge Networks, and before that worked for a variety of vendors, including Ericsson, Mitel Networks Corp., and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE).

Whyte, equally as handy with a golf club or a pool cue, also worked at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), and has become one of the most vocal critics of the carrier's current next-generation network plans (see BT's 21CN Meets Its Skeptics).

And it's Whyte's willingness to speak up and speak out that is his trademark. A classic recent example came at Light Reading's Telecom Investment conference in New York last December, when a panel of industry executives was asked how carriers could make money from VOIP. Panelists suggested that operators could charge for specific services, such as allowing your phone calls to follow you wherever you go.

Whyte had a different take: "I'd pay them not to find me -- that's how they'll make money."

For other Whyte gems, check out these previous stories:

  • Supercomm Snippets
  • LR Hosts/Wins Telecom Pool Tourney
  • Native Secures Its Survival
  • Bert Whyte
  • N.E.T. To Stage Come-Back

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

  • shadowpawn 12/5/2012 | 3:07:48 AM
    re: Whyte Quits Net.com I have been to so many boring presentations until you spiced up the scene. If you stay out of our industry - it will be a sad day! Go into wireless WiMAX organisation in need of a kick in the pants - lots will follow. Good luck
    bigpicture 12/5/2012 | 3:07:47 AM
    re: Whyte Quits Net.com Bert is a great guy with vision. Too bad his vision didn't work out. So where does net.com go from here? If it wasn't for their DoD customers, they would have folded back in 2001. Execution has been lacking there. I think that is why Bert is no longer there. Seems there has been some other house cleaning going on there too. Layoffs last week and this week.

    Net.com needs a new vision - maybe a more practical one this time...
    rbkoontz 12/5/2012 | 3:07:46 AM
    re: Whyte Quits Net.com Now I know that Bert is a GREAT guy, but net.com is/was/always will be simply a crap company. It will be nice just to see LR get off the net.com bandwagon for the first time in years...

    Let's hope Bert's next company is a good one that LR can endorse legitimately.
    Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:07:43 AM
    re: Whyte Quits Net.com Come on gang. 4 strategies in 6 years and criticle of BT. The board gave him his papers and said, adios. Pretty nice fellow, but he couldn't close a door, and does not have a nose for talent. Bert has had some success though and he will land somewhere. Makes you want to Scream and Shout, "Good Luck".
    Cheers mate
    Phiber_Phreak 12/5/2012 | 3:07:43 AM
    re: Whyte Quits Net.com Whyte may be someone's idea of an ideal drinking buddy but he's delivered little innovation or leadership in many years.

    Whyte keeps ending up at companies whose glory days are long gone (net.com, ACC, Newbridge), and he keeps them that way.

    Caveat employer to whomever falls prey to Whyte's considerable charm next time around.
    techiedude 12/5/2012 | 3:07:36 AM
    re: Whyte Quits Net.com The entire management team should be sacked - all bunch of bojos with absolutely no idea where the company is headed. I would say good riddance...

    It is like if you hire B- at the top, all the rest below would be C and C+ and that's what N.E.T is/was all about...

    Kick some ass and bring some fresh blood this time, which will get rid of all the dead wood and create some fire if you will...
    Ringed? 12/5/2012 | 3:07:35 AM
    re: Whyte Quits Net.com N.E.T not net.com has a special place in my heart. I worked there for a very long time in the late 80's until the mid 90's. I'm over it, as it is more nostalgic at this point.

    N.E.T owned part of a class B, IP address, before most people knew what IP was. Before the INTERNIC went back and reclaimed space. N.E.T still owns the rights to Cisco IOS source code. N.E.T was one of four founders of the ATM forum. We had an ATM switch out in '92. Granted there was not a wide area side. Anyone remember the DEC Giga Switch? N.E.T had one of the first Sonet muxes out also. STM 18. No fiber ports but did VT switching day one. Remember Audrey McClane ? The IDNX product now obsolete is advance by most all Next Gen MSPP's today, wrt, the control plane. That is a fact..

    To this day N.E.T has one of the sweetest DoD contracts in telecom. It held them through the doldrums of the bubble.

    When you aren't in the carrier space fully, then jetison it for enterprise, then make another run at the carriers, then run back to enterprise this sort of thing happens to you. N.E.T's enterprise customers as of the early 90's included every major brokerage house in Manhattan, plus, your MCI's, LCI, C&W etc. They did a-Law - mu-Law in the same box. It was a great T1 based platform post Divestiture. And Newbridge and LinkSys couldn't really compete with it unless it was a niche application. Like 16Kb trunks off a battleship. You laugh. N.E.T also did DS-0 A/B. Most people don't know you can subrate mux DS-0 services.

    So fair is, as fair does. N.E.T, you have chosen a product direction again that is possibly not well thought out. That's business. Bert inherited a legion of problems created by CEO's Smith, Warmenhoven, the "Italian Stallion", etc.

    Best Wishes N.E.T

    Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:07:32 AM
    re: Whyte Quits Net.com Bert, like many CEO's inherited problems, but did little to change the face and long term opportunity of a company once thought of as a clear leader. A combo of questions including that of the BOD. Usual, not unusual. Too many comfortable fatcats
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