Nistica Hires a COO

5:00 PM -- It's the sign of a startup growing up: Optical components company Nistica has gotten itself a chief operating officer. It's Frank Smith, formerly of JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU), more recently ex-CEO of Entech Solar.

CEO Ashish Vengsarkar mentioned it over coffee Tuesday; we took some late-afternoon time to sit on the patio, out in the spring breeze, at Roy's Station near downtown San Jose.

As happens with a lot of startups, Vengsarkar had included operations under his own job, which kept him HQ-bound in New Jersey. Smith's hiring frees up Vengsarkar to go visit investors and customers -- which is what brought him out here this week.

It's reflective of the growth in the ROADM components business, one of the few optical components areas that's been good to startups. Capella Photonics Inc. made the same move two years ago, recruiting George Berberis as COO. He's another former operations executive from JDSU who'd since moved on to be executive operations advisor at Avanex. (See Capella Names COO.)

ROADMs happen to be a healthy sector, but these startups also had investors patient enough to wait out the doldrums of the mid-'00s -- as did Xtellus, which got acquired by Oclaro Inc. (Nasdaq: OCLR), and CoAdna Photonics Inc. Nistica, specifically, has partnerships with Fujikura Ltd. and NTT Electronics Corp. (NEL) , Japanese companies interested in long-term prospects, not startup flipping. (See Nistica Secures $6.5M Financing.)

And, as Vengsarkar pointed out, the sector hasn't attracted new competition. He couldn't name a ROADM startup that emerged after Nistica was founded in 2005. (See Photuris Crew Rides Again.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Balet 12/5/2012 | 4:30:03 PM
re: Nistica Hires a COO

...Adding aged top brass to a flawed team will not help!

Nistica needs to get their act together and develop/qualify right products. They have a strong CEO, nice technology, but technical execution is weak, just like at all previous ventures by the same technical team.

I wish them best luck. Maybe someone will pick them on the way out, NEL?

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