I got hired at the small startup Promotory Communications, located in Fremont, California right when they were getting started. I was employ number five and landed a job as their systems admin. This turned out to be a truly fascinating job. I learned so much working with such brilliant people.
Founded in 1998 with a few million in VC, we built a team of hardware and software engineers who were dedicated to developing a state of the art DSLAM for the big guys. They were going against the likes of Lucent and Cisco so competition was tough and the bar was set high.
Early on, the brilliant founder and my boss Steve Eich, confided to me that he’d intended to name the company Promontory Communications after the city in Utah where they ceremoniously joined the east to the west with a golden spike, but he’d misspelled it when filing the papers so who cares leave it.
Their innovative DLSAM slowly became a reality. We travelled to trade shows all over the world showing off the product with flashy demos in fancy booths. We quickly gained traction and the IMAS soon became known as the best solution out there.
The buzz caught the attention of Nortel Networks, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. They flew in and toured the facilities which included the labs I had built out to test the performance of the DSLAM fully loaded with hundreds of CPEs and tons of copper twisted pairs piled on the roof to simulate that last mile loop.
After months of negotiations and planning, Nortel Networks acquired Promotory Communications in early 2000. The acquisition was a major success for both Promotory Communications and Nortel Networks. Nortel Networks was now able to offer a more diverse range of DSLAM (DSL Access Multiplexer) solutions to their customers.
I stayed with Nortel for about a year and then left when their stock went from $99 to $1 almost overnight when the dot com bubble burst. In retrospect, I should have sold my stock when it had fully vested.