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

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