There Is No Cat

As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line

While the rest of the world is ditching telecom stocks like crazy, the Associated Press is publishing a puff piece on Lucent executive Bill O'Shea. They say that he's kept a low profile over the years. I guess he must have in order to escape punishment for all the debacles he's been involved in. Let's run down the honor roll. First, he was in charge of AT&T Computer Systems, which I used to work for. That division did so well that AT&T felt compelled to buy NCR and ditch 95% of Computer Systems (I was in one of the very few parts that survived the merger). As a reward, O'Shea was allowed to run NCR. That merger went so well that AT&T expelled it like a liver transplant with the wrong amino acids or something. (NCR is doing much better now, thank you.) So he was moved on to BCS, the Business Communications Systems division of Lucent which made PBXes and the like. That previously well-run division was run into the ground to such an extent that then-CEO Rich McGinn felt he needed to spin off those poorly-performing businesses in order to reach his inflated growth targets. When that spin-off was announced, an affected wag posted a web site declaring the new, at-that-time-unnamed company to be "Loose Ends Technologies". That lasted for about three or four days before the company forced it to be removed. That site included a special thanks to O'Shea for destroying the worth of the division and wishing him good riddance. Avaya is probably holding up better than the rest of Lucent's progeny in their post-O'Shea era, and have been getting some good exposure this month for their job wiring the communications infrastructure of the World Cup. After BCS was spun off as Avaya, Bill O'Shea was given responsibility for the technical direction of Lucent. He's allegedly the one who decided that the telcos would skip a generation of optical networking and move directly to Dense Wave Division Multiplexing, which was the hit that started Lucent down the road to perdition as Nortel ate their lunch in the optical market with the 10 Gbps switches that Lucent had forgone producing. As his reward, O'Shea was placed in charge of Lucent's crown jewel, Bell Labs. Given his track record to this point, I fear for its future.

I've long considered Bill O'Shea to be the canary in Lucent's coal mine. He's been present at the site of the worst fiascos his company has been involved in; I guess that low profile kept him from being suspected of having anything to do with them. The day they finally get a CEO who realizes he's the kiss of death and fires his sorry ass is the day their stock will be worth buying again. Until then, forget it.

Posted at 10:32 PM


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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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