Force10 Hit By VP Exodus

Three VPs jump ship at Force10 while revenues reportedly hit a snag

May 17, 2007

3 Min Read
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At first it was a trickle -- now it looks like a flood. Force10 Networks Inc. has lost another three senior executives, Light Reading has learned, as the company wrestles with a drop in revenues and delayed IPO plans.

The execs who have jumped ship are: Mark Cooper, vice president of worldwide sales; Michael Langley, vice president of North American sales; and Gary Arango, vice president of finance. A Force10 spokesman confirmed that all three have left.

Sources tell Light Reading the departures happened last week. The spokesman says all three chose to leave, noting that Cooper and Langley's exits were "in the planning for a couple of quarters."

Cooper and Langley had been with the company for about four years. Arango joined Force10 about a year ago to beef up the finance division in anticipation of an IPO.

Their departures follow that of VP of marketing Andrew Feldman, who left in February citing personal reasons. Feldman won't comment on whether those reasons relate to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit in connection with his days at Riverstone Networks. (See Feldman Out at Force10.)The changes in management come as Force10 continues its struggle to go public. The process was supposedly underway a year ago, but most observers believe it's been held up due to issues related to Sarbanes Oxley compliance. (See Sources: Force10's Prepping Its IPO.)

Force10 told Byte and Switch last week that it still intends to go public. But in February, Force10 raised $113 million in funding from 63 investors -- possibly a sign that the IPO is being delayed yet again. (See Force10 Round Hits $113M and Force10 IPO Still Hanging.).

There's some similarity here to Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN), another Silicon Valley company with highly anticipated IPO prospects. Unlike Force10, Infinera has begun the IPO process. But it, too, has encountered compliance issues and had to restate the earnings listed in its SEC filings. (See Infinera Builds in Q1.)

First-quarter falloff

As if Force10 investors didn't have enough reasons to crack open the medicine cabinet, Force10 is apparently coming off a rough quarter. Data from Synergy Research Group Inc. shows Force10's first-quarter 2007 revenues fell to $18.2 million from $31.5 million in the previous quarter.

Synergy analyst Ray Mota says the 42 percent drop comes from "the fact that consistency of their performance is dependent on their big customers." For those familiar with earnings conference call terminology, that's the same as "lumpy revenues."Mota thinks that kind of inconsistency will continue with Force10 "until they find some really good resellers or partners out there" to help spread out the customer base. Force10 could also try adding more products to attract new customers, he says - a move the company made earlier this week with its C series of switches. (See Force10 Flirts With Midrange.)

As Force10 doesn't officially disclose its revenues, the company declined to comment on Synergy's figures.

"We concluded a strong first half of 2007," the spokesman says, referring to Force10's fiscal second quarter that ended in April. "We're expanding our product portfolio to take us into new and significantly larger markets."

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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