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crapshooter 12/5/2012 | 12:35:52 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster Maybe LR can give Stephen a job. He is pretty talented.
optical_guy 12/5/2012 | 12:35:52 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster I feel that I should clarify or emphasize a few things;

1.I really don't think that I, or the events of my personal life, really constitute a story. I&#8217;m not that important. The real story should be about (as Phil mentioned) whether this has happened to others and the boundaries of individual rights versus responsibility to one&#8217;s employer in the expression of opinion, particularly in light of employees simoultaneously being stockholders. I strongly encourage any further discussion on this story to follow that direction.
2.I want to express as strongly as I can that I do not view myself as an egregiously wronged person or some kind of martyr. In a number of posts of mine since my departure from Corvis, I have never written a word of personal invective toward Jim Bannantine nor do I harbor any resentment toward him for the outcome of the events in this story. I think that he pulled the trigger on me too fast and without sufficient consideration of the totality of my contributions and dedication to Corvis anc that there were other possible and justifiable outcomes that would have resulted in my continued employment with Corvis&#8230;.but this is just my opinion and by definition cannot be objective. On the other hand, although I don&#8217;t agree with the outcome, I certainly can understand Jim&#8217;s view of these events and I am certainly aware, admit to, and deeply regret very real transgressions on my part related to the degree of personal invective in my later criticism of Dave. I also deeply regret that I caused anyone at Corvis to feel that I violated their trust or hurt their chances for future success. I still admire and respect the vast majority of those that I worked for and with at Corvis and the fact that I am not longer associated with them is my personal loss. I think that one&#8217;s view must take into account that old legal rule&#8230;..&#8221;But for&#8230;.&#8221;. In other words, BUT FOR my own actions I would probably still be employed. I do not dispute this and if I had to do it over, I would do it differently. On the other hand, I am the one who has paid the very real and ongoing price for my actions and don&#8217;t feel that I need to hide in shame either. I don&#8217;t believe that there are any purely good or bad guys involved here and that certainly includes me.
3.Since Phil quoted from a post of mine, I feel that the entirely of this post should be reposted to so as to maintain the context&#8230;it follows:

I was recently asked, a couple of times, what my thoughts are regarding Corvis&#8217; outlook as a business and an investment. Surely to the chagrin of many who do not want my opinion on anything, I&#8217;ve decided to try to pull my thoughts together and offer them to those with whom I have enjoyed conversation and discussion over these last 2+ years.

First, I must address an open issue that seems to keep coming up. I am no longer an employee of Corvis. I did work for Corvis, I started with them when the company was in a very early stage, had relatively few employees, no real product as yet, and no real infrastructure and processes. My association with Corvis lasted almost four years and the position that I was in allowed me an unusually broad view of the activities within the company and the decisions and personnel that were involved in those activities. I am extremely proud of what my coworker and I created (that&#8217;s right, created). Those who have ever worked at an early stage start-up know that its nothing like going to work for an established firm, that little to nothing is given to you, that you and your fellow employees (at all levels) basically fight like hell to create a company where there was none. Rightly or not, I found that I, and many of those I worked with, felt that we were entitled to a proprietary view of the company based on our &#8220;sweat equity&#8221; well beyond that which one would feel entitled to from being given a job in an established firm. I did, and supposed still do, feel entitled to opinions on how the investment of effort and personal sacrifice of my co-workers and myself was/is being managed via the overall direction of the company. I did not, and still do not, buy the &#8220;Corvis, love it or leave it&#8221; view espoused by many here. I did, and do, feel that the company exists only because of the many who built it and the many who funded it via their investments, and that both groups are entitled to their opinions regarding the company&#8217;s performance and direction.

With all that said, I do regret the extent to which my frustration and anger manifested themselves in personal criticism of Dave Huber. Please read this very carefully, I do not regret my critical view of many decisions and the management style that I believe originated directly from Dave. I believe that these criticisms are founded in fact and proven out by events and subsequent company performance. However, I do deeply regret allowing my frustrations to turn into personal invective directed toward the man himself. To the extent I did so, I view this as a failure by me to maintain my professionalism. I would suggest that the slow build up of my frustration and anger was perhaps understandable given the huge personal investment of my co-workers and I and what seemed to be a continual series of avoidable mistakes which contributed to these investments (both dollars and effort) being squandered. Nonetheless, directing such frustration and anger into personal invective, no matter how justified the criticism by the facts, is wrong in any professional situation&#8230;always&#8230;and I am subject to justifiable criticism for having done so. To the extent that I can I believe that I have made amends for this mistake.

Although I regret the degree to which I allowed my feeling to become personal in my later posts about Corvis, the label I have been given as a &#8220;Huber basher&#8221; by some is not, in my opinion, justified. One does not have to be on this board for very long before they quickly discover the true meanings of &#8220;hypsters&#8221; and &#8220;bashers&#8221;. Both are people who knowingly post erroneous, distorted, or selective and one-sided information in an obvious attempt to sway and manipulate opinion in support of some personal or ulterior agenda. Any who cannot tolerate any level of objective and supported criticism of a company, and who personally attacks those who offer any objective criticism, are transparently hypsters&#8230;there are no companies whose performance is above criticism by its shareholders. Those who post only derogatory information and, in fact, out right lies about a company, and who personally attack any who provide positive information or opinions, are transparently bashers. Which of the posters on this board who fall into one of these two categories is obvious and neither group should be accorded any credibility in my opinion.

I started out posting on this board and LR in an attempt to disarm outrageous disinformation and lies being posted by the many bashers which Corvis seemed to attract in number. I believe that the vast majority of my many posts were nothing more than attempts to refute such bashing and provide what little education on the general technology of backbone networks and their application market that I could to truly interested and objective investors. A number of folks have referred to my posts as containing inside information. I challenge these assertions and defy anyone to find anything that I posted (perhaps aside from my personal views of Dave) which was not previously available by other open sources. In this I was assiduous. In fact, I am not so technical; as I have often pointed out, as to be able to really provide any insider information on the products and I certainly did not, ever, provide unavailable insider information on the business side of things. Mostly I attempted to provide a layman&#8217;s view of the benefits of mesh architecture, the components needed to create one, a professional view of the deals that were published information, my view of the market place, etc.

I continue to hold a sizable amount of Corvis shares, I continue to have nothing but the highest respect, admiration, and truly deep affection for many of those I worked with, and I continue to wish nothing but success for Corvis, its employees, and its shareholders. Now, at last, my opinions, for what little they are worth:

The Product &#8211; discount all who criticize the Corvis transmission and OOO switching product line (ON) as not working well, or having serious problems, etc. This is nothing but BS. The products work, they work well in their intended environment, they provide benefits to the service providers that no other company&#8217;s similar product line can match, etc. Much criticism has been directed at Corvis&#8217; products as being unnecessary or inappropriate to the traffic patterns in US long haul networks. I continue to believe that such criticism either reflects a profound lack of understanding of network architecture and the Corvis products or, at worse, attempts to discredit Corvis&#8217; products with disinformation or selective arguments. For its intended application, Corvis products are the best, the only field proven of their type, manufacturability, field deployable, and supportable. End of story.

I know little about the Dorsal products however I believe that they address an application market that is even more depressed than the terrestrial back bone segment and that their incremental benefits over existing competitive products are much less significant than for the ON line, while the barriers to market entry are even higher than those faced by the ON line.

The OCS is a &#8220;me too&#8221; product at this point, which is not to say that there is anything at all wrong with that. There are areas in which it has advantages over its competition and areas in which it does not. It is necessary products to compliment the ON line, to ease entry to new customers, and to generate much needed revenue relatively quickly. My only criticism is that its development should have been pushed much faster than it was. It&#8217;s not yet clear whether they will make their window opportunity for this market and Corvis should have been able to see revenue from this corporate acquisition (Baylight) prior to this point in time. Ciena&#8217;s Core Director has a substantial lead on market penetration that Corvis will have to overcome.

Financial and Sales Performance to Date &#8211; The facts are reasonably simple and somewhat depressing. From inception to date Corvis has burned something like $1.1- 1.2B dollars in order to generate something on the order of $280M in gross revenue (I&#8217;m sure someone could dig up the exact numbers). To date they only have two real customers, BRW and WCG (Q, FT, etc are completely insignificant) and these deals are over two years old. There has essentially been no progress in building the business for the last two years. Corvis has not significantly penetrated any new accounts or markets over the last two years to include geographic markets such as Europe or Asia or market segments such as RBOCs or true first tier carriers. Their current backlog and new bookings are pretty much zilch and their deployed footprint (which yields follow-on and expansion sales and support) is relatively negligible. When the getting was good, they didn&#8217;t get as much as they could; and now that the getting is bad they aren&#8217;t. From any view of corporate figures of merit they have performed poorly as an individual company nor have they outperformed (or even matched) their competition. One can argue as to WHY this is (my views on this are well know) but the facts of WHAT in fact is their performance to date remains without dispute.

Ability to Execute and Viability &#8211; with respect to potential business with first tier carriers and the Government, legitimate questions can be raised as to Corvis&#8217; viability and ability to execute at large scales and hence their ability to compete for this business. Raising these concerns is legitimate but not necessarily valid or fatal. In my opinion, the Corvis engineering, customer service, and manufacturing team can definitely meet any challenge, there is extraordinary and outstanding talent with proven abilities in these areas of the company. However, we can only time will prove the weight that potential customers give these concerns and whether Corvis can overcome these concerns with other attributes and advantages.

Business Prospects &#8211; in the short term there are only really three opportunities for Corvis&#8230;the much-discussed AT&T business (see Gilder report excerpt that was posted on this board), the Federal GIG-BE backbone, and some OEO type switching RFPs (for the OCS product). Within 3 &#8211; 4 months it should be clear if Corvis has any wins in any of these areas. Without any win within this time frame they are, in my opinion, completely dead meat. If they get any significant business (really T or part of Federal work) then our equity has a chance of being preserved in some form. I am currently holding my stock in hope that they will succeed in one of these areas. If they do not, and again I believe that their prospects will be clear within 3-4 months, then I will dump my position. However, even if they do win some of this business, it is my opinion that Corvis has no chance as a stand-alone company in the face of certain and radical contraction at all levels of the industry. The only beneficial purpose of a win in the short term is to provide added value to the company as an acquisition target. If they do not get a win and add such value, or if Dave continues to refuse to sell the company as he has in the past, then I cannot see how equity can be preserved.

M&A &#8211; this cuts both ways&#8230;on the Corvis acquiring end (companies that they bought), I don&#8217;t think that they have done a very good job. The Algety acquisition has provided no tangible benefit that I can see (in fairness, Corvis is far from the only company that did not reap benefits from bubble acquisitions). My opinion remains that the Dorsal deal was a complete screwing of the investors which is contributing to the burn rate while prospects for revenue are extremely dim for the foreseeable future. I also think that Rick Schaffer of CBIC, who helped tout this deal, is a complete whore and belongs in the category with Blodgett and others or his ilk. The Baylight product (OCS) is, again, valuable but it remains to be seen if it will be too late to benefit the company.

On the other end, and for all those who love to scramble after every rumor of a potential suitor for Corvis, please take a deep breath and relax. There is absolutely no reason for any company to pull the trigger on a Corvis acquisition at this time. If they do not win any business, then the company will only become less costly to acquire in the future if, indeed, there is even any reason to acquire them without any wins, which is doubtful in my opinion. If they do win some business, and hence revenue and support against their burn-rate, then they will not become so suddenly valuable as to deter acquisition. I would personally like to see them bought by Cisco or Siemens, but given previous rebuffs to suitors I don&#8217;t know if this will happen under any circumstance without intentional strategy on the part of Corvis&#8217; executive team.

My Major Concern &#8211; my major concern regarding this company is its ownership structure. That is, Dave owns a sufficient portion of the company so as to allow him to ignore any criticism or pressure for change. It is a public corporation whose officers and board should be responsive to the shareholders. However, it is in effect a family business and you and your money are just on for the ride. The shareholder&#8217;s rights, and their prerogative to make demands of management for performance or change in the absence of performance, are the most important protection of the shareholder&#8217;s value. In this case, as with many others (take Adelphia for example), these protections are essentially non-existent do to the concentrated ownership structure. Our major institutional investors have voted with their feet over this issue and our only significant board member, Vinod, left for similar reasons. Dave can retain control and drive this puppy right into the wall if he wants, and so far he has.

My Next Major Concern &#8211; I believe that the management team, at the VP level, is outstanding to include the remaining two VP of Sales. However, I do not see any true senior executive dealmakers left at the company. Falcoa, Unter, and Bakosh fit this category and have been driven out. Vinod likewise on the board. I like and respect Jim Bannantine but I don&#8217;t believe that he has the contacts and horsepower to be a deal maker in the telecom industry at the level that these deals are truly made. I do not know enough to comment on the recent BOD additions and their ability to form winning teams and maneuver for Federal work. Dave is certainly not the solution to this need. The old saw about build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to you door is actually not accurate in this business and this is apparent in Corvis&#8217; past performance.

Last Major Concern &#8211; I have no idea what the company&#8217;s strategic vision is at this point. Not technical vision but business strategy. Just how does Dave plan to succeed in the anticipatable industry contraction that many believe is/will happen. If you think, as investors, that you see a clear strategy which appears to have some good chance of providing long term success to this company I would be interested in hearing your views.

Well, this posting should give my requestor plenty to say about my long windedness&#8230;.but I think it beats the scatological discussions that often dominate the board.

Good luck


Cheesy Guy 12/5/2012 | 12:35:52 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster By the way, the "search" on LightReadng doesn't allow you to search posts. It just allows you to search the stories by LightReading.
Seems like it would be a useful feature to search posts also.
optical_guy 12/5/2012 | 12:35:51 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster LB - you are absolutely right and I have no argument with my culpability in these events. I was aware that if my identity was known that my posting would be viewed negatively. However, I think another side of the story is the great need that built up in me, and I'm sure others in like circumstance, to express their frustration, anger, and views as the value that they struggled so hard to create plummetted to next to nothing and often without good reason. An "anonymous" board seemed like a good way to vent opinions that I could not, and certainly did not, express in the company and never, never, never to the customer. This was certainly naive on my part, but the need was certainly there to bleed of the steam. That I should have found a different forum for this is without argument.


optical_guy 12/5/2012 | 12:35:51 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster Gea - I want to express my gratitude for your kind and generous opinion of me.

Best of luck.

Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 12:35:50 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster You can search the message boards here:

PastTense 12/5/2012 | 12:35:49 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster Good luck, Steve. You know me but I won't reveal myself. I also started early on - right after you - when you were still in S&M. I know you to be a smart, earnest guy and you should land on your feet.

I wish the bozos at LR hadn't used your real name, though. I think Gina is right, that might make things tougher for you.

Good luck to you.
Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 12:35:48 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster Unfortunately the story has no credibility without a real name... And during Steve's correspondence with us he used his real name. We appreciate his candid approach.

optical_guy 12/5/2012 | 12:35:48 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster Scott - yes, I made the mistake of using my real name on initial coorespondence (which was primarily a suggestion for an update article about the Ciena/Corvis suit) with you without previously establishing any such communications as off the record or background. It was my mistake not to recognize the limited moral obligation to sources many members of your profession seem to have. In this, you guys were a bit like used car salesmen pleading..."but you didn't ask". Alright...buyer beware and now I and everybody else on this board knows.

It is also true that I told Phil that the article shouldn't be about me but about the fundamental issues involved and that I did not want to parade my name around. It is also true that Phil called to tell me that in this regard he had been over ruled by his editors (you?). I thank him for the warning if not for granting my wishes.

gea 12/5/2012 | 12:35:48 AM
re: Corvis Deletes Message Poster "I wish the bozos at LR hadn't used your real name, though. I think Gina is right, that might make things tougher for you."

Well, depending on OG's psychology (and bankaccount), it could be a good thing too. Consider that any other company reading this that's looking for a butt-sniffer won't hire him, but those looking for a straightshooter can go dig out his posts and see he did nothing major league terrible, AND defended his company's basic business in an intelligent matter (on a tough board).

So the result will be to actually filter out Corvis-like companies from his future. Not a bad thing if your cool enough about it. (And who knows? maybe the guy's already landed another job.)
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