Optical components

Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems

After 14 years in business, Lightwave Microsystems Corp. has closed down.

The component maker's final day of operations was last Friday (September 27), according to its president and CEO John Midgley. Sources say the decision came as a surprise to the 240 people who lost their jobs that day.

Midgley declined to elaborate, simply citing closure "due to market conditions".

Although it has a much longer history than most startups, Lightwave Microsystems as we know it came into existence in mid-1998. Its original idea -- developing polymer-based thermo-optical switches and other devices -- had run into trouble, and the company looked ready to keel over and die.

At that point, Midgley, then a consultant, was called in to give some advice. To cut a long story short, he ended up redirecting the company's efforts towards a shorter-term goal -- making Arrayed Waveguide Gratings (AWGs) -- and becoming the president and CEO.

In this venture, Lightwave Microsystems appeared to be successful, becoming a prominent vendor of AWGs, close behind the leaders JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU), NTT Electronics Corp. (NEL), and Hitachi Cable Ltd. It also took important next steps in developing integrated optical components, by combining AWGs with other components, such as variable optical attenuators (VOAs) and detectors.

In total, Lightwave Microsystems raised more than $123 million for the development of AWGs, not including an unannounced investment from a strategic partner, probably Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW), sometime last year. It even enjoyed a spell on Light Reading's list of Top Ten Private Companies (Note: The new Top Ten list is going to be released later today, and Lightwave Micro, obviously, will not make an appearance).

"There was no problem with products or customers," says a high-level source within the company, who asked not to be named. "But it takes revenues to survive, and that just trickled in."

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

— Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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real_class2001 12/5/2012 | 12:31:35 AM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems Hello Everybody -

What's the story with Quantum Bridge? Is this company doing OK?

optical Mike 12/5/2012 | 12:31:33 AM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems I had heard a rumor that they were having some financial trouble but they are working a partnership deal with Motorola to keep them alive.
real_class2001 12/5/2012 | 12:31:06 AM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems
It appears that Quantum Bridge shut down its European operations. I called the UK office, the telephone number was not valid. Are they still active in North America?
optobozo 12/5/2012 | 12:30:47 AM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems real_class2001,

What are you fishing for? You said in a previou article:

"Quantum Bridge needs to die. Hardware OK, but
lousy network management and control software made it very - VERY - difficult to run even a small access network. Killed my budget because of all the excess maintenance costs. To hell with QB. I switched to Lucent solutions, since then I have been one happy customer. One more thing about QB, they lie about their product performance ...... One Pissed Off Customer"

If you are a customer, why don't you know how to contact them? Considering the state of most any start-up hanging on today, I would suspect you wouldn't be ignored. Why not try calling their phone number published on their website?

I may be wrong. They don't call me optobozo for nutin'!
wilecoyote 12/4/2012 | 9:38:36 PM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems Lightwave Micro came very close to a huge acquisition price right before the market crashed. I heard $2B from a very good source if you can believe that. Corning was the buyer but they got cold feet.

Too bad. Good people in this company all around. An interesting couple of twists along the way. Founders had good vision and took a lot of risk, hung in there and delivered some interesting technology. Investors showed a lot of patience and support and the employees worked hard. Would have been a great Silicon Valley startup success story. I wish all of these people well.
deer_in_the_light 12/4/2012 | 9:38:35 PM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems What about Gemfire, did they close down ?
ZZbottom 12/4/2012 | 9:38:34 PM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems Gemfire:

Another one with a long history
LightSwitch 12/4/2012 | 9:38:33 PM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems I'm not familiar with the precise reason for their demise but I would submit to you that they saw the writing on the wall...and rather than prolong the inevitable, they chose to cut their losses, grant decent severences, and live to fight another day.
ZZbottom 12/4/2012 | 9:38:33 PM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems "I agree...Great people, good work ethic, and fantastic leadership. Unfortunately, these qualities are not enough to survive in this turbulent environment. I wish them the best in their future endeavors."

I don't know about good managements though...
Going from 240 people to 0 in one day seems starnge, generally I'd start cutting expenses/projects/laying off people/closing buildings etc BEFORE you shut down completely. Am I missing something?
lightbridge 12/4/2012 | 9:38:33 PM
re: Obituary: Lightwave Microsystems Althought it might not matter anymore:

From Lightreading's "Editorial Disclosure" page:
"Light Reading has received Series A funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in technology companies, some of which are the subject of published editorial content on the Light Reading web site. Light Reading's editors will disclose this relationship in any editorial article where the primary subject covered is one of these companies."

From LightspeedVP's "Portfolio" page:
"Lightwave Microsystems Planar lightwave circuits and integrated devices"

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