Procket Networks chief resigns

Randall Kruep leaves the helm of the Internet routing start-up, raising questions about what's happening at the well-funded company, which has failed to generate profits so far.

The chief executive of Procket Networks has resigned, just a few months after the well-funded newcomer surfaced and claimed it would challenge router giants Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks.

A representative for Procket said Randal Kruep resigned for personal reasons last Thursday. Kruep had headed the company since 2001, helping it gather the last of an estimated $277 million in funding. Kruep could not be reached for comment.

Procket named a new interim chief, Paul Matteucci, as it hunts for a permanent replacement. Matteucci is a partner with one of Procket's investors, U.S. Venture Partners.

Industry insiders believe Kruep resigned because the company, despite having technically superior gear, has had trouble making a dent in a market that's now ruled by Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks. The Procket representative denied that was the case.

In April, Procket Networks introduced what it said were the world's first terabit routers, beating Juniper Networks, Cisco Systems and seven others to the market. The gear is aimed at telephone companies and others that need to move huge amounts of data at very fast speeds. At the heart of most of these networks is equipment that operates at a speed of one gigabit per second. One gigabit is a billion bits; a terabit is a trillion.

But Procket's routers have been a slow sale. So far Procket has only been able to muster orders from the broadband division of Japanese phone giant NTT and its U.S. partner, NTT/Verio.

Analysts predicted Procket would have a rough time because the broadband and phone industry have been battered for three years by overbuilt networks, massive debt and a slow U.S. economy. The telecommunications bust "makes it difficult for start-ups, who must compete on having better technical ideas," Dataquest analyst Tim Smith said.

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