Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahhaf has won the world's scorn for evasiveness. But spinmeisters in the telecom world are also skilled at creating a reality distortion field when their companies come under financial pressure and layoffs.
Being in the press biz, we marvel at their ability to keep on their smiley face and say things are peachy, while behind closed doors the company is taking the hacksaw to staff and budget. Headcount, of course, doesn't blame the flacks for their flacking; a job's a job, after all. (Hey -- in Amsterdam, even the prostitutes have a union!) We suspect, though, that even the flacks must sometimes marvel at the whoppers they're required to parrot in these anarchic times.
Anyway, enough musing on misinformation. Let's get to some hard facts, as we review some of the past week's most interesting hirings and firings:
Occam Networks Inc. (OTC: OCCM) employed about 102 people as of February 28, according to its most recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, down from about 130 people in November 2002. Occam's new filing also says that, to date, the company's products are operating more than 20 customer networks and that the company is engaged in trials with four of the top 20 incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) in the U.S. However, the filing also notes that sales to its biggest customers -- DTC Communications, Inc., Armstrong Telephone Company, and Pan Dacom Networking AG -- accounted for about 38 percent, 25 percent, and 13 percent, respectively, of its revenues during 2002.
Not surprisingly, Catena Networks Inc.
has officially appointed Jim Hjartarson as its permanent CEO (see Catena Names President/CEO). Hjartarson, who took the top job from Bob Machlin about a year ago, has kicked off his tenure as CEO by making some bold predictions. The company is in the process of raising another $15 million and plans to add another 1,000 employees to its payroll by 2008, according to an article in the Ottawa Business Journal. The article further states that Hjartarson revealed that Catena has shipped $5.5 million worth of its products to customers in Q1 2003 and that it expects to reach $70 million in sales next year.
Another startup with several 'product of the year' honors has apparently crawled under a rock and died. Aplion Networks Inc. has a dark Website, a non-working phone number, and it owes a company called LightGuide more than $600,000, according to a judgment in New Jersey Superior Court. According to its Hoover's profile, Aplion was founded by its chairman, B. Gopinath, in 1998. It was funded by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), W.R. Hambrecht & Co., Ray Stata, founder of Analog Devices Inc. (NYSE: ADI), and others.
Force10 Networks Inc. VP of marketing Steve Mullaney has left that company for pastures unknown (greener ones, we hope). Calls to the company were bounced to the CEO, P.K. Dubey, who didn't respond in time for this article's publication. A PR firm called Acuitive used to help Force10 with such matters, but it is our perception that they've been dismissed.
Components maker Teradiant Networks Inc. laid off nine of its 55 staffers last week, according to company spokesman Gary Good. The company's VP of engineering, Jim Thomas, left the company about two weeks ago, an event that Good says is unrelated. "Our needs have changed," says Good. Teradiant raised $26 million in its first round of funding in February 2001. It's in the process of raising its second funding round and expects its investors – including Menlo Ventures and Diamond Head Partners – to chip in.