In 2014, however, only Calix and Cyan remain as the telecom holdovers in the new millennium of Telecom Valley. Both private companies have gone public. This state of affairs exists after some fifty years of DLC and fiber optics systems development around the world. Although only a few companies survived the dot.com bust and the telecom meltdown of 2001 and 2003, respectively, other companies slowly closed down or moved away from the Petaluma area. Cerent’s acquirer, Cisco Systems, for example, chose to leverage its Monza, Italy optical center and its Bangalore, India software center to develop optical transport gear. Cisco slowly transferred or released some 1,000 employees and closed about thirteen buildings as it withdrew from Telecom Valley in the early 2000s.
The legacy of Telecom Valley with its many wealthy individuals and remaining high-tech companies have now become part of the fabric of Sonoma County, a valley that persists with Don Green viewed as its father. It just needs a “shot in the arm” to return to its early days of glory.
Erina Kearney, a former human resources specialist at Cerent, is optimistic, “I'm so happy to be back in the North Bay! I'm definitely missing working in tech, however, I hope that someday soon there will be more opportunities up here for that kind of work.” Erina recently moved back from the South Bay where the “tech jobs were a dime a dozen.” The calling to return home to Sonoma County was irresistible. She adds, “To get back home I switched to the Senior Living Industry. It's hard to work in a new area after the fun times at Cerent and then I spent 5 years at another exciting start-up.”
While many left Telecom Valley after the crash of the industry (and some returned), others stayed put. Carl Russo, for example, became the CEO of those Cerent rebels based in Petaluma. He liked what he saw in Telecom Valley in 1998 and joined. He could not deny the pull of the team’s energy and passion to build something special during that hectic time. Carl remains working in Petaluma to this day as the CEO of Calix.
But the world is changing, and not for the better for Telecom Valley. There appears to be a move towards what some call “new company structures.” Scott Messenger, Cerent’s ‘454’ product manager, observes, “Large companies are turning to many-geographies to get the same job done that we once did in one location. There is still a core site strategy in many of these companies, but they are so much more centralized around big cities, big development centers such as Silicon Valley, Frankfurt . . . and more.”
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“The list” of innovators, past and present, includes: Advanced Fibre Communications, Calix, Cyan, Diamond Lane Communications, Dilithium Networks, Enphase Energy (an energy startup with deep telecom roots), Fiberlane and Cerent, Fibex Systems, Mahi Networks, Next Level Communications, Teknovus, Telenetworks, Turin Networks, and many others.