Qwest Drafts Former Sorrento COO

It looks like Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) has gotten down to the task of turning over a new management leaf... by hiring a former executive of Sorrento Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: FIBR).

Oren Shaffer, the former president and chief operating officer of Sorrento, has taken over as Qwest's chief financial officer (see Qwest Makes Changes). Shaffer's hiring was one of several executive changes announced by Qwest on Sunday morning.

Shaffer, who was touted as the man who would restore credibility to Sorrento, worked for the company only seven months before leaving. He has yet to publicly talk about his tenure there from March to September 2000 and could not be reached for comment today. Qwest tried to downplay his stint there, mentioning it only in the 13th paragraph of Qwest's announcement.

Sorrento was once an optical networking cult stock that traded as high as $140 per share. Much later, it was touted by tech investment guru George Gilder (see Sorrento Rides a Gilded Wave). At one time, the company had a market capitalization of $2B, whereas today it is valued at $10M. As of today, the stock was trading at $0.71, down 0.01 (1.39%).

Shaffer wasn't the only Sorrento CEO to see a quick exit. The company has seen a tumultuous couple of years, during which it's been managed by the revolving-door approach. Former Nextel executive Jim Dixon served as Sorrento's president and COO after Shaffer, but he lasted only from October 2000 to October 2001. Sorrento founder Xin Cheng, who also held the titles of chairman and CEO, left the company in March 2002 (see Cheng Out at Sorrento).

Prior to his stint at Sorrento, Shaffer was a consultant for SBC Communications Inc. from January to March 2000. Before that, he had been CFO at Ameritech (now part of SBC) for six years and had a 25-year career at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

Shaffer replaces Robin R. Szeliga, who will stay with Qwest as an executive vice president, helping the company focus on reducing its debt.

Qwest also hired Joan H. Walker as its senior VP of corporate communications and Gary R. Lytle as vice president of policy and law. Walker replaces Michael P. Tarpey, who has retired. Lytle replaces Lauren "Pete" Belvin, who will serve as a consultant to Qwest.

Those leaving Qwest include James A. Smith, executive vice president for national consumer markets; Shaun P. Gilmore, executive vice president for global accounts; and Ross Lau, president, Qwest Asia.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 10:07:59 PM
re: Qwest Drafts Former Sorrento COO As iswell known that most of the RBOCS do not have sophisicated and well educated management> Most ofthe jobs are just big jokes. Pacific Bell one time had over 100 VPs. For some unforunate reasons, all RBOCs has been taken over line and trunk men. Most of the RBOCs have an annualrevenue of over $17B and they can afford well educated personnel. Deficiency in education and experience in the RBOCs have caused tremendous problems with PUC, FCC and other government agencies.

A person who occupies a rank of CFO in a RBOC should be well educated person in fianance with experinces in a similar size company. From this point of view, the choice of CFO is not asequate.

With uncertain future, Qwest still has not learnt that it needsa personnel who are well educated and have good experience. Qwest was so much out of its mind that even people as young as 30 years became VP of Engineering. This is a form of internal corruption which can only be tackled by Board Members.
elvisgoescamping 12/4/2012 | 10:07:55 PM
re: Qwest Drafts Former Sorrento COO If you look into the resumes of the newest
Qwest-ites, you will likely see Ameritech. Nothing wrong with bringing people you can trust to root out evil...
puddnhead_wilson 12/4/2012 | 10:07:52 PM
re: Qwest Drafts Former Sorrento COO Hey erbium, my fellow "refugee" I think Shaffer probably has a good idea what he is getting into here. Whereas Sorrento was a company that was all hype, Q is a company that actually has a fairly solid revenue stream (thanks to US West) & has, hopefully, purged itself of what caused its problems, a former mgmt team trying to boost numbers in order to cash in on options.

Some things are going to come out that will give Q a black eye, but I think the company itself will remain ongoing, unlike WCOM (err, WCOME). Just a hunch.
erbiumfiber 12/4/2012 | 10:07:52 PM
re: Qwest Drafts Former Sorrento COO He got there just in time for the criminal investigation. Having this experience on his resume will make him a valued player in the telecom industry as subsequent companies face various SEC and criminal probes. Advice: use this experience and become a telecom/criminal consultant! Then you too can charge $800/hour like the guy overseeing WCOME...
erbiumfiber 12/4/2012 | 10:07:50 PM
re: Qwest Drafts Former Sorrento COO Yup! ILEC will survive (Q), IXC (WCOME), not. WCOME admitted as much yesterday when it discussed its "reorganization." Oh MCI will go somewhere (like FON) and UUNET will fetch a pretty penny, someone will buy the fiber...Still, for pure gambling interests, I am long 1000 shares at 8 cents (what the hell, I'll throw my 80 bucks around).

Having amused myself with the ENTIRE WCOME hearings (via audio at work, CSPAN at home) I can hardly wait to see former Q execs like Nacchio step up to the 5th amendment plate. Maybe Nacchio won't screw it up like Ebbers did (by having a long, flaming statement before asserting 5th amendment privilege) and maybe they can be "roomies" in prison. I think they make an attractive "couple" (lol).

A good friend's husband was laid-off by WCOME in the Friday of Doom (the whole church actively prayed for laid-off employees of WCOME) and they are both H1-B visa holders and just bought a house...God help them. My start-up went belly-up (or at least laid everyone off which is about the same thing if you're a laid-off person) in April and now I am consulting for two more start-ups (will I ever learn??).

It's been over a month since any CIEN v. CORV news-appears they are still waiting for the judge's ruling on claim interpretation. They dropped one of the 5 patents from the suit (one of the last entries on the docket sheet) which was good news for me as it was the main focus of the "inequitable conduct" on the part of the attorney allegation...

LightReading has the only sane message boards left since they police them more seriously than Yahoo (if Yahoo does at all...)

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