Headcount: Fits 'n' Starts

The telecom recovery picture seems brighter lately, as Headcount hears several anecdotal reports of some long underemployed folks finally finding jobs in telecom again. Interestingly, a swim through the latest available labor numbers shows the overall employment picture hasn't really changed, but the fits and starts are more and more pronounced.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says there were 5,747 mass layoffs affecting 573,523 individuals from January 2004 through April 2004. That's a lower number of mass layoffs and jobs cut than the year-ago period (6,466 layoffs and 624,833 workers affected). The BLS defines a mass layoff as when 50 or more workers are cut during a single month.

But even as mass layoffs increased, the BLS says the unemployment rate, 5.6 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, 8.2 million, were essentially unchanged in April.

Want some specifics? You got it. Here are some hirings, firings, and noteworthy employment news from the past several days:

  • Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) has confirmed that Nick Jeffrey, its senior VP of worldwide sales, is leaving the company to pursue other interests. Jeffrey, who reported directly to CEO Gary Smith, was previously Ciena's general manager of international operations until November 2003, when he was promoted. Jeffrey's duties will be assumed by Jim Collier, who had been Ciena's VP of North American sales.

  • Speaking of Ciena brass jumping ship… Ed Ogonek, formerly the senior VP and general manager of Ciena's metro and enterprise solutions, has joined Bridgewater Systems Corp., a wireless OSS vendor. Ogonek's role is being filled by James Frodsham, the former chief operating officer at Innovance Networks. Before Ciena, Ogonek was the president and CEO of Akara Corp., which was acquired by Ciena in August 2003.

  • WAN expander Peribit Networks Inc. is being sued by archrival Expand Networks Inc., which says that an employee that jumped from Expand to Peribit took documents, emails, and other competitive info to help with his new job.

    The employee, a sales support systems engineer, was at Expand from March 2003 to April 2004 before leaving to join Peribit, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. The complaint alleges that the employee helped Peribit win a contract at Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) worth about $1 million, as well as make progress on other key deals with the U.S. Navy and The Gap.

    Mike Banic, Peribit's VP of corporate marketing, says the employee in question is still with Peribit and that he joined the company after being located by a recruiting firm in Southern California. Banic couldn't offer further comment, as the matter is still pending in court.

    Expand is two years older than Peribit, has twice the number of customers, but was recently eclipsed by its profitable rival in quarterly revenues, according to sources close to both companies.

  • Axonlink Inc. founder Hertzel Yehezkely has become the chief operating officer at Transtech Control, according to a source close to Axonlink. Axonlink, a tunable receiver manufacturer, has been searching for a suitor to buy or merge with it in recent months, and Yehezkely, who was involved with the process, has indicated to friends that the process is close to winding up, thus allowing him to hop to Transtech.

  • InPhonic Inc. has hired Rick Calder as its president and chief operating officer. Previously, Calder had been in charge of the enterprise and carrier markets group for Broadwing Communications LLC, a post he'd held since 2001.

    Here are some other items that have come across the Headcount desk in the past few days:

    That's all for this edition of Headcount. If you spot something we've missed, please alert us by sending a news tip to [email protected].

    — Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

  • wilecoyote 12/5/2012 | 1:39:40 AM
    re: Headcount: Fits 'n' Starts More revenues than half of the companies on that list, strong team, class A backers, cool product, high valuation fundraising. How could they not be on this list?

    LR, you are still too focused on carrier type companies. Carrier is dead to most private companies, permanently. The reasons are too many and everyone in these boards knows already so why bother listing them. Sector is dead to startups, save a few like Turin which has $10-15M a quarter (founder issues abound--surprise, surprise, but promising nonetheless). You've pointed out a few winners but beyond the current class of critical mass startups the rest are dead meat and no one's funding these projects going forward. Time to move on.

    Time to focus on security, efficiency, appliance type products, stuff that enterprises are buying these days. Otherwise it's more doom and gloom about which core switch company is going out of business this month because their dreams were dashed by the relevation that their "imminent SBC contract worth $250M" has suddenly, inexplicably gone "poof."
    OptixCal 12/5/2012 | 1:39:35 AM
    re: Headcount: Fits 'n' Starts Is it me or are the executive names mentioned in this LR article, and their new jobs, reminiscent of past NFL hiring practices? The same old "coaches" just a new uniform. No new blood is being introduced to a market that is crying for a shake up in new ideas, management style or focus. The "old boy" network is still churning away and promoting their "friends". Apparently, the movement of execs from one company to another, regardless of the industry, is a very tight-knit and secret society based on clandestine dinners, secret handshakes and whispered promises of reciprocal hiring practices. Highly qualified, people -Black, Female and yes, a few white guys as well - are, in my view, being ignored for the supposedly "safe" hiring of someone who may have a track record of "having done it before". It doesn't seem to matter that those "track records" are, at least over the past few years, looking a bit shakey with little to show for their efforts except expenditures of vast amounts of VC money, bloated executive management roles and corner offices.

    This list of the Telecom's Who's Who is beginning to look like the Heidi Fleiss blackbook. But of course, that's only one man's opinion.
    Unemployed, Disgruntled and PO'd.
    bobcat 12/5/2012 | 1:39:33 AM
    re: Headcount: Fits 'n' Starts Brothas and sistas can I get a, amen....?!
    I feel the pain..!

    So true., so true. How does it go?

    "There was a crooked man, = CEO
    And he walked a crooked mile. = IPO
    He found a crooked stile. = VC
    Beside a crooked stile, = VC + CEO
    He bought a crooked cat, = CFO
    Which caught a crooked mouse, = VP Sales
    And they all lived together
    In a little crooked house". = Company YOU work for.

    Hah! Telecom house that is.. movie stars, and swimming pools...

    Truelight1 12/5/2012 | 1:39:28 AM
    re: Headcount: Fits 'n' Starts Proably one of the bets posts I have read in a long time. You will get employment if you believe in yourself.

    Hey LR any good news on companies or is it all gloom !
    reoptic 12/5/2012 | 1:39:12 AM
    re: Headcount: Fits 'n' Starts Has any company had more of a revolving door at the SVP of sales job than Ciena? No job security in that one. Seems like they have a new one every 6-12 months...maybe something else is the problem?
    hiflier 12/5/2012 | 1:39:09 AM
    re: Headcount: Fits 'n' Starts Ciena's sales churn is a result of having no idea at the top how to build sales oraganization or even what a quality one does. The Linthicum mafia made up of all the insiders don't value sales, understand sales, and keep any executive in the sales arena that knows anything out of the corporate loop and in the dark. You only have to go back to Gary's experiment of promoting the General Counsel (who had NO sales experience)to head of sales to understand where the problem lies. But that sort of leadership is worth millions in bonuses while riding the thing to the ground....
    3e8 12/5/2012 | 1:39:03 AM
    re: Headcount: Fits 'n' Starts Gary's experiment in promoting McCarthy led to the fiasco of Ciena continuing to provide ridiculously optimistic revenue guidance into early 2002 even though the pipeline was completely drained by massive spending cuts by carriers.

    Heard he is now at Infinera as their VP of EMEA sales. Probably forecasting millions in sales...

    romeo-foxtrot 12/5/2012 | 1:39:02 AM
    re: Headcount: Fits 'n' Starts Here is an incredible statistic: Over half the senior exec team of Ciena are ex-Nortel "lifers"!

    Combined, 7 of them have over 75 years of experience at Nortel:

    Arthur Smith - SVP Global Ops (11 years)
    James Collier - SVP Sales (20 years)
    James Frodsham - GM Metro & Enterprise (10 years)
    Bob O'Neil - GM Data Networks (2 years)
    Jim Hjartarson - GM Broadband Access (16 years)
    Pamela Adams - SVP Core Networks (10 years)
    Mike Aquino - VP Gov Solutions (8 years)

    And half the other senior execs have backgrounds either at Alcatel or Lucent!

    This is amazing. So much for Ciena being a dynamic start-up with fresh ideas. More like a re-hash of ex-Nortel big exec types who know how to manage but not how to lead.

    Their newest member of the Nortel alum club is Frodsham, whose last claim to fame was closing down Innovance. He joins a list of four general managers of a company scraping along at $70M of quarterly revenues and 11% margins. I guess his Innovance experience will be appropriate to his new job!
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