No Naperville for Kennedy

Ed Kennedy, president of North America for Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), has resigned and withdrawn his name from Tellabs' CEO search.

The reason given? He doesn't want to move to Naperville, Ill. Can you believe it? [Ed. note: Can you blame him?]

The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise, as Kennedy was considered a favorite for the Tellabs CEO job -- and of course he's also one of Light Reading's Top Ten Movers and Shakers in Telecom (um, we might have to reconsider that now). Kennedy came to Tellabs two years ago through its acquisition of Ocular Networks, where he was founder and CEO. At Tellabs he was working on integrating the Ocular products and positioning the company's next-generation data networking and metro products (see Lehman Likes Tellabs/Vivace, Tellabs Regroups, Promotes Kennedy, and Tellabs Sees Ocular Upside).

"We are slightly disappointed by this development as Ed was one of the top candidates for the CEO role," writes Steve Levy, an analyst with Lehman Brothers, in a research note issued this morning. "Additionally Ed has brought many fresh ideas to Tellabs since joining in 2001 through the Ocular acquisition."

Both Kennedy and the company cited geographical issues for the resignation. Kennedy and his family are based in the Washington, D.C., area, which is where Ocular was based, and Tellabs headquarters are in Naperville, which is about 20 miles outside of Chicago. He had been commuting in the two years since the Tellabs acquisition.

"After long and careful consideration, it's best for my family that we remain in the Washington, D.C., area," Kennedy said in a prepared statement.

At least one person familiar with Kennedy said the reason for his departure made sense.

"There's really not much there [in Naperville] except for Tellabs," says Doug Green, principal of the Bradam Group who worked for Kennedy as vice president of marketing at Ocular. "I'm sure it came down to him not wanting to move his family."

Michael Birck, Tellabs' chairman and CEO, will assume Kennedy's role in the meantime, while the company continues its CEO search (see Tellabs CEO to Retire... Again). Birck tells Light Reading that the field has been narrowed to six candidates and will likely be concluded in the next few months.

"We have some excellent candidates, and Ed was one of them," says Birck. "I think he just was concerned about moving his young family, and then working a lot. He looks a lot more relaxed now [that the decision has been made]."

It's also possible that the timing of Kennedy's decision was tied to contract talks. Green noted that this week is the two-year anniversary of Tellabs' acquisition of Ocular, and it's possible that he was working under a contract that was expiring anyway.

Kennedy was not available for comment beyond what Tellabs published in its press statement. — R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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whyiswhy 12/5/2012 | 2:40:36 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy Scott:

Les paysans ont parl+¨! Merde!

...or something like that.

alchemy 12/5/2012 | 2:40:38 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy I'd point out that Ocular Networks is in Reston, Virginia. That's the epicenter of uncontroled suburban sprawl, not trendy Georgetown. I imagine that most of the Reston execs live farther outside the beltway on golf courses or horse farms. I'm not sure I'd want to move my family from that situation to Naperville, either.
RGreg 12/5/2012 | 2:40:38 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy I lived in Naperville for 2years and then in another small town a few miles north for another 5. Yes, the downtown area is 'small town', but there is a ton of shopping to be had, for example, in the Fox River mall area on Rt 59 south of I-88, and there are several good microbreweries in the adjacent towns. Plus there's this great German restaurant in Lisle (one town over) that has the best imported beer (NOT from a bottle, for the beer connoisseurs among us).

On the technology side, aside from Tellabs, and Lucent, there are several other smaller companies along the hi-tech corridor along I-88, as well as Motorola up in Schaumburg. And there is always more talent coming from all the U of I grads moving out of true cornfields in Urbana (I think all of the cornfields in Naperville have been developed), as well as people coming out of the Fermi particle accelerator in Batavia.'

Plus from downtown Npaerville you can get to downtown Chicago in 45 minutes (outside of rush hours).

But yes, it is not a telecom hub.
goreda 12/5/2012 | 2:40:38 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy It is my understanding that Naperville has been rated the top city to live in for Illinois for several years, voted the most kid friendly, and I've recently heard that the city was just voted one of the best places to live in the country.

Editor - if you have never been to Naperville, your comment is offensive.

To each his own but it sounds like Naperville is better off without Mr. Kennedy.

douggreen 12/5/2012 | 2:40:42 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy Sir-Wish,

I won't speak to Ed's departure timing as that is a personal matter. I will correct one misconception: Ed is not just a "startup guy." Most of Ed's experience over the last 10 years was running large organizations for Newbridge and Alcatel. In fact, when I first went to work for him at Ocular, I was more worried about whether he was a "big company" guy.

On the purposes of the aquisition, we are probably in at least partial agreement. The aquisition was partially defensive (to maintain positionin and pricing on the 5500), partially offensive (to get the product), and possibly a secondary but still important goal was to instill some entreprenural DNA into Tellabs...shake things up a bit. On the last point, this part of the plan that Birck had for Ciena, i.e. putting some of Ciena's people in charge after the merger.

5514DD 12/5/2012 | 2:40:43 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy Come on, tell us, what was the purpose?

The real acquisition purpose was probably served (no, I am not going to explicitly name that purpose :)) and Ed's departure timing seems to be synchronized with that purpose being served. se?

sir-wish-pro-wide-her 12/5/2012 | 2:40:44 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy douggreen wrote "BY the way, give LR some credit. They called me because I know Ed, not because I know Naperville ;)"

My claim of more hype than substance is true, for LR even after reading your response. Apparently, it sounds like LR trusts your location knowledge rather than your relationship with Ed :-).

I visit LR for amusement value, rather than anything that can be trusted consistently.

BTW, what grew and propsered in the middle of cornfields was able to acquire "urban stuff", if there is such a phrase.

My take is the "urban stuff" acquisition was neither primarily for technology, nor for people, or for the product.....so a good marketing VP will be able to connect the dots and know why the acquisition was made. The real acquisition purpose was probably served (no, I am not going to explicitly name that purpose :)) and Ed's departure timing seems to be synchronized with that purpose being served.

A CEO post for an established (middle sized or large sized) company needs different skills than just a cute face and startup expertise. Don't misunderstand, in no way, folks other than Ed are being raised to any higher pedestal either. Lets wait and see who gets the CEO slot.

douggreen 12/5/2012 | 2:40:46 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy OK, OK, I accept the heat. Usually I don't respond to things like this. However, I am the first one to speak up when Silicon Valley snobs claim that they have an exclusive on technology, so I should not be so quick to make the same mistake. I actually like the Chicago area a lot... in the summertime, that is. However, although it may be a nice area, it is not the center of the Telecom and Datacom universe. You also don't have access to the mountains in 20 minutes and the beach in 2 hours like here in Northern VA. However, I have to admit that the traffic situation and cost of living is infinitely better. Plus, you don't have to live so close to so many politicians ;)

Actually, I did spend some time visiting Tellabs in other lives (namely Ciena). I saw the buildings in the middle of the cornfields. I also have relatives that lived in the area before they retired to Florida.

BY the way, give LR some credit. They called me because I know Ed, not because I know Naperville ;)

sir-wish-pro-wide-her 12/5/2012 | 2:40:46 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy Wasn't Dog Green let go when Tellabs took over Ocular? It appears he never saw naperville....funny how he has an opinion on naperville. And funny how LR is more hype nowadays that substance, as it prints comments from those who don't appear to have the right background to be making those comments.
ThouShaltNotJudge 12/5/2012 | 2:40:47 AM
re: No Naperville for Kennedy And what about Lucent (Indian Hill)?
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