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2007 Leading Lights: Where Are They Now?

Craig Matsumoto
10/20/2008
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As we prepare to unveil this year's Leading Lights winners at a gala dinner Monday night (you've all got your tickets, right?), let's take our traditional look back at how the 2007 crop fared.

For those keeping score at home, here's how things went last year: LR Names 2007 Leading Lights Winners. But after dining lavishly at New York's Japonais, did they live happily ever after? Read on.

  • Person of the Year: Jagdeep Singh, Infinera
    Remember, you helped pick this one via our first-ever Leading Lights reader poll. And it is still a solid pick.

    Singh followed up Infinera's big 2007 with the company's first Tier 1 win, at Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), and talk of a future that includes 100-Gbit/s wavelengths and an expansion into the metro space. (See Infinera Wins DT, Loses the Day, Infinera Unveils PIC Road Map, Should Infinera Go Metro?, and Infinera Surprises, Targets Metro Access.)

    It wasn't all smooth sailing, as Infinera had to gouge its sales forecasts for the year. But it's hard to deny that the vendor has become a force in optical networking, thanks to Singh's leadership.

  • Best Investment Potential (Public Company): Arris
    From Jan. 1 to Feb. 15, Arris shares fell 45 percent, to $5.50, while the Nasdaq Composite was down just 12 percent. Bad start, but Arris recovered to trade at $9.63 on Sept. 19, before everything went south.



    The bad: Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) lowered its spending and started using Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) EMTAs, ending an Arris winning streak. The good: Arris is in Comcast's Docsis 3.0 plans, and second-quarter sales perked up. (See Arris Slammed on Q4 and Comcast Buying Arris Docsis 3.0 Gear.)

    So -- good investment? We were closer than it looks, but we'll have to rate this one a miss.

  • Best New Product (Public Company): Fujistu Flashwave 9500 Packet Optical Networking Platform
    So, fine, there's a lawsuit or two that might or might not relate to the 9500. (See Tellabs Sues Fujitsu for Patent Infringement.)

    What matters is that the box was believed to have won a big Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) deal, and Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. was finally able to confirm that in June. (See Fujitsu Confirms Verizon Packet Optical Win.)

    The next step was to craft a European version of the 9500, one that supports Provider Backbone Bridging - Traffic Engineering (PBB-TE, also called PBT). (See Fujitsu Brings Flashwave to Europe and Fujitsu Backs PBB-TE .)

    Not enough for you? Then consider this crucial development that surely warrants further investigation: Fujitsu Wins Key Battle.

  • Best New Service (Public Company): Verizon Virtual Private LAN Service
    What we liked about this Verizon Enterprise Solutions effort was the scope: a truly nationwide rollout (available virtually anywhere in the country, the carrier claims) with plans to go global in 2008. Verizon has since added to its Ethernet arsenal -- which was already pretty hefty at the time -- with new services like Next-Generation Sonet for Metro Ethernet. (See 2007 Top Ten: Services Stories and VZB Advances Metro Ethernet.)

  • Best M&A Strategy (Public Company): Ericsson
    The Swedish firm won last year after a shopping spree that stretched from fiber access (Entrisphere), to edge routers (Redback), to broadcast and IPTV systems (Tandberg TV), and even billing platforms.

    It's fair to say that Ericsson hasn't sat on its hands and looked lovingly at its new toys. The vendor has thrown itself full force into the IPTV market, using the Tandberg TV accounts and expertise it picked up with that acquisition, and even acquired an IPTV consultancy to add to its assets. (See Ericsson Takes On IPTV Giants and Ericsson Invests in IPTV Smarts.)

    In the IP/MPLS world it's pushing its rivals hard with new platform releases from the Redback stable, has set itself bullish targets, brought some new (old?) blood on board, and is pushing important buttons, such as environmental awareness. (See Redback Goes Green, Tony Li Leaps to Redback, Redback Targets AlcaLu – Again!, Redback Targets 30% Market Share, Redback Tallies Wins, Redback Goes on the Offensive, and Redback Nabs Ex-Cisco Engineer.)

    And with Entrisphere, Ericsson has been one of the companies pushing the fixed broadband boundaries with some 10 Gbit/s GPON developments. (See GPON Gets a 10G Look.)

    And billing? Well, billing is becoming one of the hot markets in which to have a toehold. (See Billing Loses Its 'Boring' Tag.)

    So far, so good for the expanded Ericsson portfolio, though it'll take a few more years to see if it can claim to have been in the same league as Alcatel's TiMetra acquisition, which ranks as probably the best telecom M&A move of the decade.

  • Best Marketing (Public Company): Nortel
    Nortel won for PBT. (See A Guide to PBT/PBB-TE.)

    "Like it or loathe it," we said at the time, and that phrase held true all year, as Nortel continued carrying the PBT (or PBB-TE) banner and helped keep the technology in the spotlight. (See Analyst: PBT’s Not Dead Yet, Nortel Aims for Ethernet Profits, and Nortel Lands PBT Wins.)

    Unfortunately, Nortel appears likely to sell off its Ethernet and PBT businesses. PBT is too far along to be killed off by this one action, but this surprise decision could end up being a small blow to the technology's marketing muscle. (See Nortel to Sell Carrier Ethernet, Optical Biz, Huawei Seen as Likely Nortel Suitor, and PBT: Alive 'n' Kicking.)

  • Top IPO/M&A Candidate: RGB Networks
    RGB even made it as a finalist in this year's awards. It's still strong enough to go public (ignoring the fact that it's a lousy market for IPOs) and that strength would make it a good acquisition target, although executives claim the company isn't on the block.

    But, given the company's momentum and product portfolio, that acquisition attitude might change if it gets an offer it can't refuse from a larger fish that's desperate to expand its gear menu or pursue new business lines. Some candidates to consider: Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) -- a long-time RGB reseller -- and Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) and Arris, which have shown interest in beefing up their respective video gear menus through acquisition. (See Harmonic to Tune Up Video Strategy? , Harmonic Hints at Acquisition Strategy , and What's Next for Arris?.)

    At least they can make an offer knowing that they're bidding on a company that has customers and deployments, and expects to be in the black by the fourth quarter of 2008.

  • Best New Product (Private Company): ip.access Ltd., Oyster 3G
    This 3G femtocell won for being cutting edge and potentially game-changing for mobile operators. Since then, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) started a femtocell trial using the Oyster device. And Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) liked the product so much that it invested in ip.access Ltd. and started integrating Oyster with its own IP networking products. The vendor also introduced a 3G home networking feature that links the Oyster femto and a 3G handset to a user's home network. (See Cisco, ip.access Prep Femto Combo, Qualcomm Invests in ip.access, IP.access Does Home Routing, and Fun With Femtos.)

    There's been one setback, though: Home gateway partner Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) said it was not going to use the ip.access 3G femto technology in its gateways. (See Thomson Sidelines ip.access.)

  • Best New Service (Private Company): BitGravity Inc., Smart CDN
    BitGravity Inc. won for a CDN supporting high-quality online video with fast startup and advanced seek capabilities. Since then, the company has raised some capital, named customers, and announced a partnership to get its CDN technology into the worldwide network of Indian ISP Tata Communications Ltd.

    The $2.5 million funding might seem small, but the Tata partnership provides the global reach necessary for competing against Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM) and Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW). The customers are beginning to follow. (See Tata & BitGravity Link Up, BitGravity Gets a Bit of Funding, Tata Enters Global CDN Market, BitGravity Lands CollegeHumor Business, BitGravity Powers Tina Brown's Beast, and HD, Live Video, Progressive Downloads -- Defying BitGravity.)

  • Best Marketing (Private Company): Brix Networks
    The team at test vendor Brix had a big smile on its collective face at last year's awards, and the smile got even broader when the company was snapped up by EXFO (Nasdaq: EXFO; Toronto: EXF) for up to $37.5 million in April this year. (See EXFO Builds With Brix and EXFO Building IPTV With Brix.)

    Would that deal have happened without Brix's concerted marketing push and prowess? We reckon not.

    — The Staff, Light Reading

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    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 3:29:12 PM
    re: 2007 Leading Lights: Where Are They Now?
    you missed some big stuff about Ericsson'Redback investment. Nardin's gone and Antoun's been demoted. Is Tony even still there? Plus what has Redback really won? Not sure it really lives up to the expectations. You be the judge....
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