Baltimore Sun’s BEST party in 2 weeks

Ciena Corp. built on dreams, risks Decision: Shareholders will vote Friday on the sale of the Linthicum telecommunications company, one of the most successful U.S. start-ups.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Patrick H. Nettles had just taken a big chance, and it was time to face the consequences.

Nettles, the head of Linthicum-based Ciena Corp., walked into a vast ballroom at the BWI Airport Marriott. About 800 of his employees were waiting for him.

The day before, on Tuesday, June 2, Nettles had agreed to sell Ciena. He wasn't sure how the workers would react.

After all, the sale - which will be voted on Friday by shareholders - marked the end of independence for one of the most successful start-up companies in U.S. history.

Less than three years earlier, Ciena was a 68-employee telecommunications equipment firm that had yet to make its first dime. Since then, it had grown to 1,000 workers with more than $700 million in revenue and became perhaps the most prominent symbol of Maryland's shift to a high-technology economy.

During its rapid ascent, Ciena crushed records and turned heads: Its first-year sales were the highest ever recorded by a start-up, and its initial public offering had the highest first-day valuation ever seen for a company funded by venture capital.

Ciena became the top seller of a device that allowed phone networks to carry up to 40 times more calls and Internet messages. This equipment could lower phone bills, speed up World Wide Web connections, and usher in a new generation of services such as video calling.

Ciena's dazzling rise is a story of how one obscure Maryland company capitalized on the economic and technological changes that are reshaping modern society. It is also a personal tale of dreams and risks that brought people together, pulled them apart, and turned them into multi-millionaires.

It's also an example of how vulnerable and volatile new firms in a rapidly changing industry can be. That was shown on Friday when Ciena's stock plummeted 24 percent after the company released a disappointing earnings estimate.

As Nettles approached the ballroom that day in June, an uncertain chapter in Ciena's story was about to begin. First, he had to talk to the workers.

Ciena began with a lone scientist, a tiny lab, and a race against time.

David R. Huber was hired in January 1989 by Chicago-based General Instrument Corp. to do something no one else had done. Scientists had found a way to make phone lines and cable TV wires carry far more information than had previously been possible. The potential of such a discovery was immense. Phone and cable companies could carry more calls and more shows without going to the huge expense of digging up sidewalks and laying new lines.

But the technology was still unreliable, and nobody had figured out how to commercialize it. Huber's assignment was to see if it could be done.

Huber, a 38-year-old electrical engineer, plunged into the job. By 1991, he was convinced that the technology could indeed be commercialized, and soon.

Then everything came crashing down. General Instrument, which was taken over in a leveraged buyout in 1990, was looking for ways to save cash. Huber's project was axed. His explorations had to bow before the unsympathetic realities of business. It would not be the last time.

Huber was determined to keep his work going. "I was very excited about the technology," he said. "I could see the opportunities and the potential, and I was interested in pursuing the technology because I thought it could make a lot of money."

He struck a deal. General Instrument would let him stay in the suburban Philadelphia lab a while longer. The company would also give him temporary ownership of the patents to the technology.

Huber had 18 months to find someone else to fund his work. At the end of that time, he would lose the patents. Without those patents, he would have no chance to develop a product.

It was a maverick's wager, but Huber - a tall, lean Oregonian who speaks plainly and holds eye contact like a bobcat - was eager to make it.

He was in an all-or-nothing situation. If he won, he would get a shot at making millions. If he lost, the work of the previous three years would turn to dust.

The survival of Huber's project depended on money. His quest for funding didn't start well. He pitched his idea to some of the top companies in the high-tech world, such as Apple Computer Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., as well as Paul Allen, who had co-founded Microsoft Corp. with Bill Gates. There were no takers.

"I've still got scars on my knuckles from all the doors I knocked on," Huber would say later.

Those early rejections led Huber to a stark conclusion: Big technology firms, for all their wealth and acumen, aren't good at recognizing and exploiting hot new technology.

He felt the screws tighten. Six precious months had gone by, and Huber was still borrowing from relatives. He did not have the cash to begin making a product.

He had been in a situation like this before. In the mid-1980s while working for Optelecom Inc., a Gaithersburg telecommunications equipment company, he tried to start his own fiber-optic instrument firm. The effort cost him $10,000 and went nowhere.

"All I got was tired," he said.

Huber was afraid he might be failing again. He sought help from W. K. Woodruff & Co. Inc., a Dallas brokerage. In a stroke of luck, Woodruff sent the draft of Huber's business plan to a local venture capital firm, Sevin Rosen Funds.

Sevin Rosen was in the business of giving money and guidance to promising high-tech projects. It had provided funding to some of the most successful companies in America, including Compaq Computer Corp. and Lotus Development Corp.

Jon W. Bayless, a partner at Sevin Rosen, looked over the plan for Huber's project, which was then called Hydralite. Intrigued, Bayless called Huber to set up a meeting - he was planning a trip to New York, anyway, and offered to swing by Philadelphia.

The two men met in October 1993, and Huber demonstrated his technology.

Bayless was impressed. Here, he thought to himself, was a once-in-a-decade breakthrough, a device that could increase network capacity enough to alter the entire communications industry. Immediately after the demonstration, he offered to invest in Hydralite.

There was a condition, however. Huber was obviously a skillful and dedicated scientist, but his business plan was a mess. For the young company to succeed, it would need bottom-line savvy as well as scientific talent.

"What I told him was I would help him fund it, but he was going to have to hire himself a boss," Bayless said.

Scientists who start their own high-tech companies often need to bring in business expertise. "If you're successful, you're facing explosive growth that you have to manage very quickly," said Marco Iansiti, a Harvard Business School professor who studies high-technology and start-up businesses. "That's very hard to do, and that's a very different skill set from thinking up the product."

Huber readily agreed to Bayless' terms. The decision would eventually become a source of anxiety and discord.

Bayless returned to New York to catch his flight. On his way there, he picked up his car phone and called Patrick Nettles.

The two men knew each other from their days at Optilink Corp., a telecommunications equipment start-up based in Petaluma, Calif., where Nettles was chief financial officer and Bayless was a director.

Nettles left Optilink in 1990, but the two stayed in touch. Bayless thought Nettles, a gracious, reserved Alabamian with broad shoulders and a deep furrow in his brow, was the kind of solid business expert Huber needed. Huber asked Nettles if he would join the new venture.

Nettles, 50, took up Bayless' offer and invited a former colleague, Lawrence P. Huang, to become the budding company's sales chief. Before committing to the project, Huang, 42, wanted to see if the technology held any promise.

Through a church friend, Huang was put in touch with George Fuciu, a high-ranking official at Sprint Corp. Huang told Fuciu about Huber's device. Fuciu paused for a long moment. Huang thought Fuciu was about to hang up on him.

"If you have that product today, it would be the equivalent of me walking out of my office and finding a pot of gold on my secretary's desk," Fuciu finally replied.

Huang called Nettles the next day and accepted the job.

Bayless brought Huber and Nettles to Dallas in February 1994. He would provide them with office space while they hashed out a business plan. If all went well, he would give them enough money to establish their new company.

Huber was anxious. He still wasn't sure whether Bayless would invest. He needed the money, and was running out of options. General Instrument had already torn down his lab.

There were a lot of issues to resolve. A device that expands the capacity of a communications network could carry anything from phone calls to TV shows. The new company had to figure out which market to attack.

Huber had wanted to use the equipment to carry movies for cable television. However, he and the others soon decided on a far more lucrative market: long-distance phone companies.

As Huang's "pot of gold" conversation had suggested, Sprint and other long-distance giants were eagerly looking for ways to boost their network capacity. They were using up their capacity faster than they could lay down new lines.

Nettles' research showed that the long-distance firms would spend between $500 million and $1 billion annually on capacity-boosting equipment. The question was whether a small start-up could get any of that. The long-distance industry was dominated by a handful of large firms who were used to dealing with large equipment suppliers. "We had to break one of the big carriers," said Nettles. "We had to either land Sprint, MCI or AT&T.; If we got one, we'd build a successful business."

AT&T; Corp. was known for its conservative approach and was unlikely to take chances with some start-up's new technology. Nettles and his colleagues would have to gun for MCI Communications Corp. and Sprint and hope to bag at least one of them.

The company now knew what to do, but it still didn't know where to do it. Nettles and Huber had yet to decide where to locate their headquarters.

Sevin Rosen tried to persuade them to stay in Texas, but the Northeast was considered a hotbed for the kind of talent the new venture would need. Maryland became the consensus choice, a compromise between Huber, who wanted to stay in the North, and his Southern colleagues. It was close to major airports. For Nettles, a boater since childhood, the presence of the Chesapeake Bay didn't hurt.

Bayless was pleased with the way things were going, and agreed to help fund the company. Sevin Rosen wasn't big enough to put up the full $40 million or more that the project would need, though. Bayless and Nettles recruited other firms that helped out. Sevin Rosen provided $3 million on April 9, 1994. David Huber's deal with General Instrument was to have expired the next day.

By January 1995, the company had taken a new name - Ciena - in deference to Sevin Rosen's belief that "C" was a lucky letter for technology start-ups. It had also set up shop in an unassuming one-story brick building next to the Hanover Holiday Inn.

That month, a Ciena contingent went to Overland Park, Kan., to persuade Sprint to buy equipment. Much was riding on the sales call. The other target of Ciena's sales pitch, MCI, had decided not to buy. Sprint was the last chance.

The sales meeting was a disaster. It was scheduled to start at 9:30, but the Ciena representatives went to the wrong building and ended up being more than an hour late. When they finally showed up, the bulb on the overhead projector blew out, spoiling their presentation. They had to wing it. The Sprint people sat with stony faces and crossed arms.

"We might as well pack our stuff and go home," Huang thought to himself as he struggled through the sales pitch.

When the meeting ended, a Sprint official suggested that the two sides go to lunch. They went to Romano's Macaroni Grill, an Italian restaurant across the street. There the Sprint representatives showed their hand.

Phone traffic was eating up their network capacity, they said. They needed relief and - despite the nightmarish sales meeting - they were keenly interested in what Ciena was offering.

Sprint insisted on seeing the product and dispatched a delegation to Hanover early in 1995. The prototype was still a crude jumble held together by tacks and tape, but the Sprint people said it was just what they had been looking for. On the evening of the Hanover visit, Sprint and Ciena officials went to Harry Browne's, an elegant, low-lighted restaurant in Old Town Annapolis, and bonded merrily over red wine. When Huber got home he was too excited to sleep. His work - his risk - was about to pay off.

While Ciena was wooing and winning its first customer, a new long-distance carrier, WorldCom Inc., was bursting at its seams. The Mississippi company was not only handling a growing number of phone calls, it was also emerging as a leader in a technology that was swallowing up ever-greater chunks of network capacity: the Internet.

"We were at the point of turning away business because we didn't have enough network capacity," said Ronald Beaumont, WorldCom's president of network services.

At a 30-minute meeting in Tulsa, Okla., in July 1996, WorldCom agreed to buy Ciena equipment. A month later, the two sides met again and WorldCom quadrupled its order. The new amount was settled with a simple handshake. At the time, that seemed like all the assurance the two companies would ever need from each other.

Ciena was primed to explode. By November 1996, the company had racked up sales of $54.8 million to Sprint alone, and sales to WorldCom were set to begin soon. To keep up with its expansion, Ciena would need more capital. The time had come to go public.

Ciena held its initial public offering on Feb. 7, 1997. The opening price was $23. By the end of the day, shares were trading for $37, a 61 percent rise. Ciena had a first-day valuation of $3.4 billion, the highest ever for a venture-backed offering.

David Huber was in New York, watching the stock and reflecting on a pleasant irony. In 1993, he had come to the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan to try to persuade a Connecticut venture capital group to invest in his project. He got turned down, just as he'd gotten turned down by so many others. Now he was there again, a guest in that same posh hotel, looking on as a single day's trading made him a very rich man. When the market closed, his Ciena stock holdings were worth nearly $229 million. Nettles had also had a good day - his shares in the company were worth $161 million.

That spring, Ciena set another record: Its $195 million in first-year sales were the highest on record for a start-up.

Despite Ciena's success, Huber was becoming increasingly discontented with his role in the company.

When he was scraping for money, he had succumbed to Bayless' insistence that he hire Nettles as his own boss. To this day, Huber insists that this awkward arrangement didn't cause tension between him and Nettles. "If I wanted [Sevin Rosen's] money, I had to hire Dr. Nettles and that was the choice," he said. "My feeling on Dr. Nettles was that he was a capable individual."

But others in the company say the two men had a troubled relationship.

"I think [Huber's] view was it would be more of a partnership or a co-CEO arrangement," said Jon Bayless. "But, you know, that type of thing never works in an early-stage start-up."

Nettles said there was "lots of tension" between him and Huber.

"If we had been working together for five years and decided to build a business together, it would have been a very different thing," he said. "But this was clearly more in the nature of a shotgun marriage."

Huber, still a scientist at heart, wanted his own laboratory where he could develop new products and perhaps come up with another breakthrough. He wanted it to be a separate entity that would report directly to the board of directors rather than to Nettles, the chief executive officer.

Nettles disliked Huber's idea. He thought it skirted his authority and was too open-ended on such critical points as funding, staffing and anticipated results. Ciena was a public company now. It had shareholders to protect, bottom lines to maintain.

Sharon Oster, a professor at the Yale School of Management, said it's not uncommon for science and business interests to butt heads as a technology start-up grows. "Once a company gets more mature, some of the wheeler-dealer, loose atmosphere goes away and sometimes scientists find that a little off-putting," she said.

The board rejected Huber's plan. Huber visited Nettles' office and said he wanted to resign. Nettles urged him to reconsider. Huber went home and, about a week later, mailed his formal resignation. "Emotionally, I didn't want to leave the company," Huber said. "But under conditions like that, it really doesn't make sense to stay. So I haven't regretted leaving, not even for a few minutes."

. Huber has since founded a new company, Nova Telecommunications Inc. of Columbia. Observers say Ciena suffered no ill effects from Huber's departure. However, other factors were beginning to erode Ciena's luster. On Jan. 26 of this year, Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies Inc. announced that by year's end it would offer capacity-boosting ,, gear more powerful than Ciena's current product. The whiff of increased competition from well-heeled industry giants such as Lucent was enough to send Ciena's stock down 5 percent in a single day.

Then, on Feb. 20, Ciena's stock lost 28 percent of its value on the news that WorldCom was delaying orders. Ciena was acutely dependent on WorldCom and Sprint, who together accounted for 97 percent of the company's revenue. This dependence had become risky.

In the months after the WorldCom shock, Ciena did all it could to broaden its thin client base, winning a series of new, smaller contracts.

However, Nettles had begun to wonder if Ciena might have to take bolder steps to protect itself. The bitterly competitive telecommunications industry was becoming a domain of giants. Through mergers and acquisitions, companies were combining in order to save money and offer broader services. Pairing up with a bigger firm hadn't been part of Ciena's game plan, but Nettles felt this was an option he might have to consider.

Nettles was in his office, sitting at his desk on a typical workday in late March when he received an intriguing phone call.

The New York investment bank Goldman, Sachs & Co. was on the line. One of its clients, Tellabs Inc., wanted to meet with Ciena to discuss joining forces.

Nettles had met Tellabs President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Birck earlier that month at a technology conference in Santa Barbara, Calif. The two men appeared together on a panel about the future of the telecommunications industry, then met privately for 20 minutes over coffee in an outdoor courtyard at the Four Seasons Biltmore.

While they didn't talk about merging, Birck was interested in pairing Tellabs with another company, and had eyed Ciena as a possible mate. Tellabs, founded in 1975, had emerged as a leading maker of equipment that manages phone calls and other communications as they travel along networks. The Lisle, Ill.-based company sought to become one of the top three telecommunications equipment firms by 2003, and decided that it had to combine with someone else in order to get there.

Nettles was skeptical. He saw how a Tellabs-Ciena union might help Tellabs, but he wasn't sure how it would help Ciena. Nonetheless, he agreed to meet with Birck. "Talk is cheap," Nettles thought to himself.

After a series of spring meetings in Maryland and Illinois, the potential benefits became clearer. Tellabs was a big player, with $1.2 billion in revenue in 1997 compared with Ciena's $373.8 million. Teaming with Tellabs would give Ciena more resources for the battle against Lucent and other titans.

It would also give Ciena a deeper roster of customers. In particular, Ciena sought to sell its gear to the regional Bell companies that dominate local phone service. Tellabs had a long relationship with the Bells, and could give Ciena a leg up in dealing with them.

In addition, joining Tellabs would allow Ciena to offer customers a far broader range of services.

While the union made sense on paper, there were deep divisions between the two sides, divisions that threatened to kill the deal.

One of those was price: Tellabs initially wanted to swap 0.88 of a Tellabs share for each Ciena share. Ciena wanted at least 1.1 Tellabs share for each Ciena share. Based on Tellabs' May 29 closing price, these seemingly narrow fractional differences were worth $1.63 billion.

Another big issue was the new company's management and board of directors. Each side wanted to put its people in as many key positions as possible.

There was a strong, simple emotion that underlay these and other differences between the two companies. That emotion was pride.

Officially, the Tellabs-Ciena coupling was not to be a merger of equals. It was to be an acquisition, with the larger Tellabs buying the smaller Ciena. However, Nettles and his colleagues had accomplished much at Ciena, and they had no desire to play the role of inferior partners. They insisted that the combination of Tellabs and Ciena be treated as a merger, in form if not in substance.

Nettles thought Tellabs was treating this too much like just another straight-ahead purchase, as if Ciena were a minnow to be swallowed up. He wanted to see more reciprocity, more respect.

"Technically, one company has to acquire the stock of the other in order for the transaction to come to bear, but that doesn't mean that you're bought into servitude," he said.

On Sunday, May 31, the two CEOs met in an office above Nettles' garage, overlooking the South River. There was a sense of pessimism. Birck felt the deal was disintegrating, collapsing beneath the misunderstandings that had developed between the two sides.

They talked for several hours. They did not settle the price. That would be left for later. The most important thing to be done that day was to re-establish rapport and trust. By the time Birck left, there were still unresolved issues, but they were, Birck said, "the kind of things that lawyers get involved in and accountants and so on." In other words, the biggest impediments had been removed. It was time to make a deal.

On Monday, June 1, the scene shifted to Chicago. The next day, just before the boards were to vote on the acquisition, Nettles and Birck reached agreement on price. Ciena wanted to command a high price, but an excessive one would dilute the value of the combined company and hurt Ciena in the long run. In the end, the two firms agreed on a one-for-one stock swap: Each Tellabs share would be worth one Ciena share, putting the initial value of the purchase at about $7 billion.

The boards approved the acquisition. Although the deal had not yet been announced, news of it began leaking. Ciena stock traded heavily on June 2, jumping 12 percent, and wire services began carrying reports that Tellabs was buying Ciena. The run-up in the stock raised suspicions among regulators.

As the shareholders prepare to vote on the acquisition, investors and analysts continue to view it favorably. "The deal makes sense," said analyst Nikos Theodosopoulos of Warburg Dillon Read LLC in New York. "I think [Tellabs] paid a fair price I. The synergy of the deal looks better and better."

Michael Margolies, president of Avalon Research Group Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla., agreed that Ciena got a good price, but said increased competition and revenue uncertainty had left the company little choice. "I think this merger was not a merger out of strength for Ciena. It's a merger out of weakness."

Ciena demonstrated its potential weakness again on Friday, when the company announced that quarterly earnings would be far lower than expected. Ciena said it had been forced to lower its prices to keep a customer, and that a $25 million order had been delayed. Ciena shares tumbled 24 percent on the announcement.

The news caused speculation that Tellabs shareholders might vote down the acquisition. The sharp Ciena downturn at least temporarily upended the carefully negotiated price ratio: At the end of trading, a share of Tellabs stock was worth 1.1 Ciena shares.

The boards of both companies reaffirmed their support of the acquisition, and analysts said that it is still likely to be approved.

If anything, last week's turmoil showed why Ciena is willing to trade its independence for a little security. The company has achieved phenomenal prosperity, but it is a prosperity born of risk; after all, Ciena's survival depended on a new, relatively untried technology.

That risk could easily have failed. Big phone companies have seldom been eager to deal with upstart vendors. They departed from this policy only because a unique set of circumstances made them desperate. That Ciena could take advantage of these circumstances was due to astute planning and luck. When the founders of Ciena were putting the company together, the Internet played no role in their plans. Yet it was the Internet's astonishing growth that ultimately helped stoke the demand for their product.

Ciena's risk paid off in a spectacular growth spurt that allowed a small company in a suburban Baltimore industrial park to reshape the communications industry, make an incredible amount of money, and give the local manufacturing and high-tech sectors a major shot in the arm - all within about four years.

Now, though, Ciena feels it is time to pull in its nets and seek a harbor. Company shareholders stand to gain handsomely from the sale to Tellabs, and those gains are hardly limited to Ciena's top brass. Many of Ciena's manufacturing workers, engineers and other employees hold stock options that have gained value with every uptick in the company's fortunes.

On June 3, Nettles - accompanied by Birck - returned to Linthicum to face the employees. When the two CEOs walked into the long ballroom at the BWI Marriott, the workers stood and cheered.

"It was probably one of the most humbling moments I've had in my career," Nettles said. As he recalled the moment, his subdued manner briefly cracked; his voice rose and tightened.

He is a businessman at heart, a man who normally trafficks in the present and very near future. The past makes him pause.

"The game, the process of building a gleam in someone's eye into an operating business that has profits and scale and which delivers high value to customers. I It's very exciting, it's very hard to do," he said.

Sitting at the end of a long, polished conference table at the offices of his new company, David Huber looked back on his experience at Ciena. "We had the right ideas," he said, "but there must have been some element of luck in it, so I'm very grateful for those opportunities. It was a very exciting time. I mean, things happened very quickly. You start with the idea, then you get the money, build the company and execute on the technology. It was just a very exciting time."

Milestones in the history of Ciena Corp.

Ciena Corp., based in Linthicum, had first-year sales that were the highest ever recorded by a start-up. The company's brief history has included a number of major deals and developments as described here.

January 1989: David r. Huber is hired by General Instrument Corp. to find a way to make phone lines and cable TV wires carry more information than had been previously possible.

1991: General Instrument Corp., which had undergone a leveraged buyout in 1990, cuts Huber's project to save cash. Huber struck a deal that gave him temporary ownership of patents and a lab to work in for 18 months,when the patents and lab would revert to General Instruments.

October 1993: Huber meets with Jon W. Bayless, a partner at Sevin Rosen, a company that had provided start-up funding for high-tech companies like Compaq computers and Lotus Development. Bayless likes Huber's device, but requires him to find a manager to take care of the business end of the operation. Bayless contacts Patrick H. Nettles, former chief financial officer for Optilink, a telecommunications equipment start-up. Nettles accepts Bayless' invitation to work on the project and invites former colleague Lawrence P. Huang to serve as sales chief.

February 1994: Patrick Nettles and David Huber meet with Bayless in Dallas. Nettles is appointed chief executive officer.

April 1994: Ciena gets $3 million from Sevin Rosen.

February 1995: The new company takes the name Ciena because Sevin Rosen believes thet "C" is a lucky letter for technology start-ups.

February 1995: Ciena contingent travels to Overland Park, Kan., to make a sales pitch to Sprint after failing to convince MCI to sign up. Despite a rough presentation, Sprint signs up over lunch.

December 1995: Headquarters and manufacturing is established in Savage.

March 1996: Introduces MultiWave 1600, which improves efficiency of optic fiber lines by 1,600 percent.

June 1996: Installs MultiWave 1600 in Sprint Corp.'s network.

January 1997: Announces exclusive contract with WorldCom, Inc.

February 1997: Public offering on Nasdaq sets record for start-up at $3.4 billion.

March 1997: Headquarters moves to Linthicum.

May 1997: Announces contract with Digital Teleport. Sets record for first year of sales with $195 million.

May 1997: David Huber, who invented the technology, resigns.

August 1997: Reaches agreement with AT&T; to provide MultiWave systems for five years.

January 1998: Acquires ATI Telecom International, Ltd. in a stock deal valued at $52.5 million. Rival Lucent Technologies Corp. announces it will offer a product that sets a new industry standard by expanding one fiber-optic network channel to 80 channels, sending Ciena's stock down.

February 1998: WorldCom reduces orders from Ciena, saying it will use the company's telecommunications equipment on an as-needed basis. The news sends Ciena's stock tumbling, a day after Ciena reported a doubling of profits in the first quarter.

March 1998: Ciena signs three-year contract anticipated to be worth $100 million in the first year to provide Sprint with fiber optic equipment. Ciena receives five-year contract valued at $25 million for Bell Atlantic.

March 1998: One of New York investment bank Goldman Sachs & Co. clients, Tellabs Inc., wants to discuss joining forces with Ciena. Nettles begins talks with Tellabs' Michael J. Birck that finally leads to an agreement several months later.

June 1998: Tellabs Inc. announces it is buying Ciena for about $7.1 billion in stock in a deal. On June 3, Nettles and birch go to Lintihicum to talk to Ciena employees. Nettles is apprehensive, but when as they walk into a ballroom at BWI Marriott, they are met by a cheering standing ovation from employees.

Pub date: 8/16/98

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
59°