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Tellabs Nabs Ocular

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
11/30/2001

Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) said Friday it will be acquiring optical crossconnect startup Ocular Networks Inc. for about $300 million in cash and about $55 million in stock options.

The deal makes sense, as Tellabs is actively pursuing next-generation technology, and Ocular needs the kind of sales access that Tellabs has into existing incumbent carrier accounts. During a conference call Friday, Tellabs President and CEO Dick Notebaert called the deal "a logical extension of [Tellabs'] business."

Ocular already has contracts in place and trials ongoing with IXCs and ILECs, says Ocular CEO Ed Kennedy. The company has been booking revenues from its product for about six months now, says a source close to the deal.

The Ocular product combines a multiplexer, a digital crossconnect, and a Layer 2 data switch. It's mostly known for its density: It allows carriers to cram lots and lots of Sonet virtual paths -- connections for an end-to-end route between two points -- into a small physical space within a tier 2 or tier 3 central office. Complementary to Ocular's product is Tellabs' Titan 5500 product, of which there are 3,500 systems installed in carrier networks. The aptly named Titan aggregates and connects DS3, DS1, and STS1 connections in the largest carrier central offices. In some cases, the Ocular product and the Titan 5500 might work side by side, using the Ocular box as an offload for high-speed optical ports.

Tellabs' managers say they expect the Ocular acquisition to generate $50 million to $100 million during 2002, much of that coming in the fourth quarter. Ocular executives cited the company's burn rate at between $2 million and $2.5 million a month.

Sources familiar with the deal say that Ocular was also being courted by some other large players, including Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN). It's unclear how far such talks may have gone or whether there were any bidding wars.

Tellabs has struggled with internal development of next-generation products, and it's now apparent that the company has chosen to go the acquisition route instead. It recently shut down work on some of its optical networking products, including the Titan 6700 (see Tellabs Pulls a Switch). In addition, it has been losing momentum with its older crossconnect product, the Titan 5500 (see Tellabs Losing Its Edge?).

The acquisition shows that in a difficult economic environment with a venture-capital funding crunch, startups are being pressured to look to larger partners with sales channels in order to bring their products to market. In Ocular's case, it had raised $50 million in funding since its founding in 1999, and insiders say it wasn't shopping itself when Tellabs came calling.

"It was far from a fire-sale," says Sean Dalton, a partner at Highland Capital Partners (HCP), one of Ocular's early investors. "If management had wanted to keep going [as an independent], we would have loved to have poured a lot more money into the company."

Ocular's other investors include Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, and Jafco Ventures.



It's not yet known how many of Ocular's 160 employees will remain at Tellabs. Tellabs' Notebaert left the attrition question wide open during the conference call. "It is our intention to retain the key resources of this acquisition," he says.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in first quarter 2002.

Just after midday Friday, Tellabs shares were down 0.17 (1.10%) to 15.33.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Executive Editor, with Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com

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USA
USA
12/4/2012 | 7:30:12 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
Looks like Tellabs got sucker punched one more time (remember NetCorSys?)

I can't believe the idiots who are making the M&A decisions still have jobs. Ocular??? Must be the Chris Roller connection...

Yes, I am a shareholder and pretty upset with the stupid moves this company has made (Future Networks, Salix, etc). Time to sell short.
stuartb
stuartb
12/4/2012 | 7:30:10 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
Ocular was built to be acquired. They still have the same challenge in front of them though (as all other God-Boxes do)... executing on their complex technology strategy.

Being acquired by Tellabs will probably make that task a bit more difficult (brand new agendas will now be forced on them). Hopefully Tellabs has learned from their many acquisition mistakes of the past.

-Stu
optics_guy
optics_guy
12/4/2012 | 7:30:09 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
USA - as a former shareholder, I can honestly say that I feel your pain. Rest assured that this is a curable disease however :) Even though I am cured, I will still empathize with you when Tellabs builds these guys a brand new building, upon completion of which they will cancel the product and close the building - taking a $400 million dollar write-down in a single quarter.......

I don't feel qualified to make a statement about the viability of Ocular's product, but I can say with confidence that now matter how good it is, Tellabs will find a way to chase away all the designers and screw it up.
froggy
froggy
12/4/2012 | 7:30:08 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
I share some of the shareholders concerns,what makes me more confident though is that this product will sold instead of selling TITAN (as opposed to the BS given in the conference call). There is no complementarity of products, TLABS screwed up and now they have to buy someone whose only value proposition is to have built a denser SONET cross-connect.
Good luck to the Ocular team, pockets full of cash will go a long way in helping them support the TLABS politics.
light_geeking
light_geeking
12/4/2012 | 7:30:07 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
stuartb,

I agree God-Boxes are more complex depending on what functionality they provide. But lets look at some potential advantages of the acquisition:
- Removing the competitive threat to existing tlab business
- Increase the tlab addressable market by few billions for a "song and dance' price (contrast with multiple billion dollar acquisitions of Cyras by Ciena, Sirroco by Sycamore, Chromatis by Lucent and Cerent by Cisco)
- At 14 times the density of Cerent, 7 times the density of Cyras, this box can kick some serious butt
- Also, Ocular architecture seems to be quite intersting where "switch" slots are minimized and revenue generating "port" slots are maximized to allow changing traffic mix while maximizing revenue generating capacity without significant footprint penalty

And I have heard that Ocular gear is in some tier 1 networks already, thus mitigating the implementation/execution risks.


I think if the aquisition team at tlab has done the homework right, then this acquisition may turn out to be a good winner.

cheers
lg
light_geeking
light_geeking
12/4/2012 | 7:30:07 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
stuartb,
I agree God-Boxes are more complex depending on what functionality they provide. But lets look at some potential advantages of the acquisition:
- Removing the competitive threat to existing tlab business
- Increase the tlab addressable market by few billions for a "song and dance' price (contrast with multiple billion dollar acquisitions of Cyras by Ciena, Sirroco by Sycamore, Chromatis by Lucent and Cerent by Cisco)
- At 14 times the density of cerent, 7 times the density of Cyras, this box can kick some serious butt

And I have heard that Ocular gear is in some tier 1 networks already, thus mitigating the implementation/execution risks.


I think if the aquisition team at tlab has done the homework right, then this acquisition may turn out to be a good winner.

cheers
lg
light_geeking
light_geeking
12/4/2012 | 7:30:07 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
stuartb,
I agree God-Boxes are more complex depending on what functionality they provide. But lets look at some potential advantages of the acquisition:
- Removing the competitive threat to existing tlab business
- Increase the tlab addressable market by few billions for a "song and dance' price (contrast with multiple billion dollar acquisitions of Cyras by Ciena, Sirroco by Sycamore, Chromatis by Lucent and cerent by cisco)
- At 14 times the density of cerent, 7 times the density of Cyras, this box can kick some serious butt

I think if the aquisition team at tlab has done the homework right, then this acquisition may turn out to be a good winner.

cheers
lg
light_geeking
light_geeking
12/4/2012 | 7:30:07 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
stuartb,
I agree God-Boxes are more complex depending on what functionality they provide. But lets look at some potential advantages of the acquisition:
- Removing the competitive threat to existing tlab business
- Increase the tlab addressable market by few billions for a "song and dance' price (contrast with multiple billion dollar acquisitions of Sirroco by Sycamore and Chromatis by Lucent and cerent by cisco)

I think if the aquisition team at tlab has done the homework right, then this acquisition may turn out to be a good winner.

cheers
lg
light_geeking
light_geeking
12/4/2012 | 7:30:06 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
stuartb,

I agree God-Boxes are more complex depending on what functionality they provide. But lets look at some potential advantages of the acquisition:

- Removing the competitive threat to existing tlab business
- Increase the tlab addressable market by few billions for a "song and dance' price (contrast with multiple billion dollar acquisitions of Cyras by Ciena, Sirroco by Sycamore, Chromatis by Lucent and Cerent by Cisco)
- At 14 times the density of Cerent, 7 times the density of Cyras, this box can kick some serious butt
- Also, Ocular architecture seems to be quite interesting where "switch" slots are minimized and revenue generating "port" slots are maximized to allow changing traffic mix while maximizing revenue generating capacity without significant footprint penalty

And I have heard that Ocular gear is in some tier 1 networks already, thus mitigating the implementation/execution risks.


I think if the aquisition team at tlab has done the homework right, then this acquisition may turn out to be a good winner.

cheers
lg
light_geeking
light_geeking
12/4/2012 | 7:30:06 PM
re: Tellabs Nabs Ocular
stuartb,

I agree God-Boxes are more complex depending on what functionality they provide. But lets look at some potential advantages of the acquisition:
- Removing the competitive threat to existing tlab business
- Increase the tlab addressable market by few billions for a "song and dance' price (contrast with multiple billion dollar acquisitions of Cyras by Ciena, Sirroco by Sycamore, Chromatis by Lucent and Cerent by Cisco)
- At 14 times the density of Cerent, 7 times the density of Cyras, this box can kick some serious butt
- Also, Ocular architecture seems to be quite interesting where "switch" slots are minimized and revenue generating "port" slots are maximized to allow changing traffic mix while maximizing revenue generating capacity without significant footprint penalty

And I have heard that Ocular gear is in some tier 1 networks already, thus mitigating the implementation/execution risks.


I think if the aquisition team at tlab has done the homework right, then this acquisition may turn out to be a good winner.

cheers
lg
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