More on MOTO & NT

Tens of millions of dollars killed by egos

Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief

February 14, 2008

2 Min Read
More on MOTO & NT

5:00 PM -- Nothing fresh on the possible joint venture between Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Nortel Networks Ltd. , except that this message board is loaded with some great name suggestions for the outfit, should it ever come to fruition.

In an earlier post I noted that history had not been kind to the Motorola-Nortel combo. Here is a little bit more color on that topic, from an alert Light Reader who lived it:

When the original [Motorola Nortel] deal came about, most of us employees were told we would be a part of the JV. We were given assurances that we had a 5 year deal. There was a lot of development done on the Nortel switch to interface to the Motorola cell sites. We were to the point of making calls but still getting all the maintenance aspects done.

We had several big deals that we lost, because of disputes about equipment. The one that really broke the camels back was a customer that wanted a system with lots of Nortel equipment. The Motorola side rejected it, and said we needed to have more Motorola equipment.

The sales guy went back and got some, not much, Motorola equipment added. Motorola rejected it again, and when the sales guy went back a third time, the customer told him to just leave. He was not interested in Motorola and wanted Nortel. I do not remember the exact amount of the deal, but it was ten's of millions.

Motorola thought Nortel was selling Nortel only systems on purpose. The simple truth of the matter was the customer wanted a working system right away, and the JV product was not available. There was no trust between the two companies.

We had assemble a very good team. The executives we had hired were top notch. They did everything possible to make the JV work, but the egos of each company doomed it. Not only did they fight about how much of each companies equipment was in the deals, there was lots of fighting about who should change code and equipment to interface to each other.

It really is a shame this did not work. At the time Nortel was considered the best switch on the market. Motorola was considered the best Cell sites on the market. Had the JV survived, I have no doubt that both companies would be in better shape today.

Thanks for sharing, dear reader. We hope this cautionary tale won't repeat itself, should the houses of Moto and No-tell decide to unite once again.

— Phil Harvey, The Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

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