Don, in 1998, among his many other roles, was one of Cerent’s board members and an investor in this upstart startup.
Like Mike Hatfield and Ajaib Bhadare, Don saw how Cerent could create value in the next generation optical transport space, especially when focused on metropolises. This very situation was due, in part, to Don’s earlier startup ventures.
One of Don’s former companies, Optilink, established cost-effective access using standards-based connections. This drove the industry to consider digital connectivity and adopt fiber transport in the access, especially as more and more fiber cables were laid.
Another of his companies, for which he became CEO, Advanced Fibre Communications, is considered to have “fiberized the access.”
Meanwhile, Nortel Networks and Ciena battled competitively in the long haul network, an area Don never delved into, other than his early work experience, during his tenure at Lynch Communications, on L-carrier. Nortel came to dominate the long-haul business by 1998, even as Cerent formed after the Fiberlane breakup.
Don Is a Winner
Don had backed another winner, in the form of Cerent, and helped to establish one more exit strategy for this startup. Don’s history as a founder and investor is impressive:
1. Optilink was acquired by DSC.
2. Advanced Fibre Communications went public with a successful IPO.
3. Cerent was acquired by Cisco.
Winning and making deals has been a hallmark of Don’s career. He continues to do so from his home nestled in the hills of Sonoma County’s “Telecom Valley.”