Shake Up At Juniper

Update: Juniper issued this press release. Jim Dolce, who has served as executive vice president, Worldwide Field Operations is leaving. Carol Mills, is out, so is Kim Perdikou. Jeff Graham, is leaving to be the CEO of a private company. Paulette Altmaier is the new executive vice president of its Application Products Group. Eddie Minshull takes over Dolche’s gig, while Jeff Lindholm is the new chief marketing officer. Reading between the lines – it is house cleaning!

Juniper Networks it seems is mired in bad publicity these days. Some of it is of their own making. Trying to sue message board users is not necessarily part of PR 101.

Today proved to be particularly rocky, after a Prudential analyst raised some concerns about the growth prospects of the company, that led to a quick sell-off in Juniper shares. The report said that the sales of the core routers are going to slow in 2006 and 2007, because the spending is going to shift to the edge of the networks. Nothing new here, but then markets work in mysterious ways.

This is ironic, because I just heard what can be perceived as some good news for Juniper. British Telecom finalized four equipment suppliers – Ciena, Lucent, Siemens and Huawei – for its $17.2 billion 21CN network build-out. Both Lucent and Siemens resell Juniper routers.

“The bigger issue for Juniper is that ’06 may mark the year when the company may not grow significantly faster than the market,” Mark Sue, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets told Light Reading. Juniper ended the day down 6%, even though the broader market and other tech-stocks rocketed higher.

Apparently, there were rumors that something major is in the air. Nothing major, my sources tell me – it is just a plain old executive shake-up. Two senior level executives are said to be leaving the company. The announcement could come as soon as tomorrow, or later this week. One of them is a start-up guy, and is off to pursue opportunities in the start-up land. Names I have heard are Jeff Graham who was the CEO of Peribit, a company Juniper had earlier acquired. Other names I am aware of but will be keep it to myself, because I have not been able to confirm as yet.

It is a classic scenario – negativity surrounds the company; everyone gets nervous; and then comes earnings season. Its all back to normal. Juniper hasn’t been very communicative, ever since VP of marketing, Christine Heckart left Juniper to go work for Microsoft. It has done a poor job of quashing some if not all the rumors, and that has led to market nervousness.