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Why Did BT Bring In Bross?

When the going gets tough, the roughed-up multi-millionaires slink off to London. That, at least, is what Matt Bross, the former CTO of Williams Communications, did last month, as he quietly accepted another CTO position at British Telecommunications plc (BT) (NYSE: BTY; London: BTA) (see Headcount: Mississippi Spurning).

Williams, or WilTel Communications Group Inc. (Nasdaq: WTEL), as it’s now called, did not announce Bross's departure, and the company would not comment on why he'd left.

Bross was infamous in the days of the bubble for making millions -- possibly more than $42 million -- out of pre-IPO shares in companies from which Williams was buying equipment, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings (see Bross Rides the ONI Gravy Train and Williams' CTO Profits From His Position ).

In a post-bubble, post-bankruptcy world, executives taking advantage of their positions to get filthy rich is probably no longer something WilTel -- with its new name, new management, and attempted squeaky-clean image -- wants to be associated with (see Williams Bolts Out of Bankruptcy ).

"I’m sure that Williams is happy to have that little problem off their hands... [and] I’m sure he’s glad to be out of that whole Williams situation," says Peter Cohan of Peter S. Cohan & Associates, a management consultancy. "Maybe that was part of the plan: to get him out of there before they took it public.”

WilTel started trading on the Nasdaq two weeks ago. By 2:00 p.m. today, the company’s stock was trading at $12.80 a share.

Regarding BT, Cohan speculates: "Maybe they don’t care about the scandal over there... I think that a company in the U.S. would have a harder time hiring him."

Over the past week, neither Bross nor BT has responded to numerous requests for comments on his appointment. In the BT statement last month, however, the company said: "During [Bross’s] time at Williams Communications, the company completed a state-of-the-art, nationwide network build-out in the U.S., based on the best emerging technologies in the market."

Whether or not he actually did purchase the "best emerging technologies in the market" for Williams' network is, of course, a matter for debate. "Matt Bross just got away with self-dealing," says Robert Aceti, one of many former Williams shareholders who have tried to prove that the carrier’s Chapter 11 filing in April constitutes bankruptcy fraud (see Williams Settles With SBC). "He’s a boring person who just happens to have a lot of money now."

Farooq Hussain, an analyst with consultancy Network Conceptions LLC, says it certainly won’t be difficult for Bross to continue cashing in on his position at BT, should he choose to do so. "It’s still an old-boys club there," he says. "The opportunity to manage those relationships is much more insular than one might hope... I have no idea what [Bross’s] motivations might be, but procurement at BT is quite attractive."

Not everyone is so hard on Bross and BT, however. Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects (no Website), insists that Williams’ former CTO was on the level, purchasing equipment that truly benefited the company. "All that garbage about his bias just didn’t happen," he says. "These guys are getting criticized for buying things... from startups at a great price. Did the equipment work? Yes."

As for why BT would want to hire Bross, Dzubeck, who has served on numerous advisory boards with him, says it’s simple. "BT has goals that are strategic," he explains. "It’s laying the groundwork for a much more globalized BT, with a U.S. presence. Matt is a great strategic thinker. Matt’s a builder. He’s a growth-oriented guy."

Maybe that clears up another puzzle: Why does Bross need to work at all, if he made $42 million during the bubble era?

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Light Reading
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StartUpGuy1 12/4/2012 | 9:09:28 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? One phrase: Margin Call!!!

As Gordon Gecko of "Wall Street" fame said "you want 100-200 million dollars, enough money to own your own jet, a player"

42 mill is not enough to be a "player".
eyesright 12/4/2012 | 9:09:27 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? LR,

Wonder how many TABs that our man Frank and Mr. Bross served together on? Wouldn't have some of the same ones, now would it?
Ringed? 12/4/2012 | 9:09:26 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? My what a bulbous nose you have Matt.

http://snrc.stanford.edu/event...

Fancy a pint with that bloke?
rzerockzeron 12/4/2012 | 9:09:26 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? Congrats to LR for finding and quoting a pro-Matt Bross "Get up and Stretch" advocate.

(The "get up and stretch" joke is a reference to NFOEC 2001, btw)

Mr Dzubeck (no website) should understand that actually defending Mr. "Farm Team" Bross (yet another NFOEC 2001 reference) discredited him in the eyes of most (if not all) readers.

RZ.

PS. Is (no Website) his middle-name or what?
alcabash 12/4/2012 | 9:09:24 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? I have been banned from LR board before for saying nasty things about Mr Dzubeck and his wife (senior VP at his no website firm)
The guy is full of gas and full of himself but he is always quoted in LR, so ther must be some relationship there.
zettabit 12/4/2012 | 9:09:23 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? The first rule in journalism is to get two sides to each story, and as such LR did its job in quoting Mr. Frank No-Web-Site Dzubeck.

However, irregardless of what-ever co-consprirator Dzubeck has to say, the North American networking community knows and recognizes Bross for what he is. The absolutely repugnant and unethical insider dealing for which Bross (and others - Wayne Price, Mike Gaddis, Mike Guess, etc...) will be the legacy by which he will be remembered.

As to Dzubeck's claim that the equipment recommended by Bross was the best possible, that is completely wrong and just exposes his lack of technical knowledge. I refer to a previous post as to specific problems with the technology deployed by Bross:

http://www.lightreading.com/bo...

And since we are so close to the end of the year, why not a prediction?

I predict Bross will not be employed at BT by December 31, 2003. It takes respect from ones employees to be a good boss, and the folks at BT are much too bright for Mr. Bross to ever last.

I guess he just interviews well........

Happy holidays to all!
billy_fold 12/4/2012 | 9:09:22 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? You forgot about the Sentient gear (Cisco MGX 8240) that Bross and Price bought which has been EOL'd by Cisco. That equipment wasn't exactly what you might call a roaring success since WilTel Comm. is having to tear it all out and replace it with something that doesn't corrupt the database every time you provision a new circuit.

-billy
nthornberry 12/4/2012 | 9:09:21 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? According to Mr Dzubeck 'BT would want to hire Bross, - itGÇÖs simple. "BT has goals that are strategic," he explains. "ItGÇÖs laying the groundwork for a much more globalized BT, with a U.S. presence. Matt is a great strategic thinker. MattGÇÖs a builder. HeGÇÖs a growth-oriented guy."

Perfect! BT has just finished squandering billions in its failed Concert gloabl network venture but clearly the US market needs strategic thinkers like Mr Bross with BT in toe, to build another x thousand kilometer nationwide backbone.

eyesright 12/4/2012 | 9:09:19 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? Mister Fold,

If memory serves me correctly Mr. Bross sued Cisco over the Sentinent deal. Something about they shorted him some shares after the closure of the acquisition, or something like that.
billy_fold 12/4/2012 | 9:09:17 PM
re: Why Did BT Bring In Bross? Mr. Right,

You may be correct. My memory is a bit hazy of such shenagins. However, I do know that he made some dough from directed shares, friends and family shares, and sweetheart shares from:
1. Sentient
2. Sycamore
3. Corvis
4. ONI
5. Juniper

-billy
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