I was exited out of Tellabs in October of 2009. I had this odd meeting show up in my calendar on day. I think it was called “Status Update”. I knew the end was nigh as the hand writing was on the wall. Even though I had my disagreements with Krish Prabhu and Carl DeWilde, we had a good relationship overall. Their demise meant that I would not would be with Tellabs much longer.
In December of 2008, we were told that Vikram Saksena was going to join Tellabs as CTO and I would work for him. I reached out to him and he was very surprised that Tellabs still had former AFC employees in Petaluma. On top of that I had several disagreements with the direction that Tellabs was taken. I understood what Tellabs was trying to do, but it seemed to be either too late or required carriers to replace most of their infrastructure.
I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was my work on WiChorus. I did some of the very first detailed diligence on WiChorus. Tellabs wanted to get a new product for the core networks for 4G Wireless (also called LTE Enhanced Packet Core). The problem was that WiChorus had started on another technology path (WiMax) and was at least 18 months from an 4G product (per their own estimates). I had seen some announcements of Carriers already picking vendors. This said to me that WiChorus would be too late even if they had great technology. I recommended that Tellabs pass and go a different direction. If you follow Telecom, you will see that Tellabs bought WiChorus. So, they certainly did not value what I had to say.
While I was looking for a new gig, Tim Flood gave me a call. He was exiting Red Condor as its VP of Engineering. He told me that Red Condor was in a tough financial spot and he needed a more secure environment. He didn’t want to leave Red Condor hanging and wondered if I would talk to them about potentially replacing him.
I spent time with some folks at Red Condor and we reached an agreement for me to join. I found a company with a working product and a lot of customers. By working product, I mean one that was highly rated and had great reviews. By a lot of customers, Red Condor had over 2,000. This meant to me that the business model at Red Condor was broken.
And that is the point here. Having a good product is not enough. Having good customers is not enough. You have to have a way of making money off of those customers. And the business model at Red Condor was badly broken. There were so many problems that this will take time to unravel, which we will do over the next few weeks.
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