Tellabs: I Exit Stage Left

Krish Prabhu had already exited when this had come to pass. Carl DeWilde got moved to Sales to replace Steve McCarthy. I was transferred with him. All of this was temporary while Rob Pullen got hired. Eventually Carl retired and I floated without a boss until Vikram Saksena was hired.

I was told about the hire and reached out to Vikram through LinkedIn. He responded and we chatted on a call for about 15 minutes prior to his starting. The most important part of the conversation to me was an exchange over my location. Vikram asked where I was and I told him California. He asked if I was in Santa Clara. I said, "No, I am in Petaluma and was part of the AFC acquisition." Vikram replied, "I thought we completely exited that business." Given that exchange, I knew I was not going to be employed at Tellabs much longer.

During the interim, I was assigned to help try to figure some things out. There were the first thoughts around the Optical LAN and potential work with some Systems Integrators for the government with that. There was some work around where Content was heading and ways for Carriers to improve their part of the revenue picture with that. The other big push for Access was to get the UMC 22 state approved inside of AT&T. At the time, the UMC was not approved for use inside the BellSouth properties. Since AT&T was not going to put DISC*S into the non-BellSouth properties, it seemed better to push the UMC to take over new deployments in BellSouth. This took a lot longer than you might think but has happened at this point.

One of the challenges with the latter was that all the plans were not incremental for the carriers. People would come up with plans that only made money once the carrier had replaced all their relevant routing infrastructure. That seemed to be a bad plan for me. Lots of Capex spending with a future promise of some new revenue maybe.

The last thing I worked on was the diligence on WiChorus. I visited WiChorus in San Jose, I thought they had a reasonable technology platform. The challenge that I saw was that the company had focused on WiMax as a technology. Tellabs was really only interested in WiChorus for deployment in 4G Wireless networks. I had already seen announcements from AT&T and Verizon about selecting vendors. WiChorus said they were 12 months from a product, which meant more like 18 - 24 months to me. If the big vendors had already made selections, I recommended that Tellabs pass on the opportunity. It seemed to me that we were just going to miss the market given the timing.

Eventually, I got a strange calendar event in October of 2009. I recognized it for what it was - the exit plan for me. I took a lot of my stuff home the night before to save time. Things were smooth on the exit and that ended my time at AFC/Tellabs. I will wrap up my learnings from the experience over the next post or two.

I won't be able to post on Wednesday (as I have to travel) but will get my Sonoma County report out Thursday.

Jim Sackman
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