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Enterasys copes with death of CEO

CEO Mike Fabiaschi, who died in his sleep last month at the age of 53, was a sales guy's sales guy who recently helped craft a $5 billion joint venture with Siemens.

As a New Englander, industry analyst, and amateur technology industry historian, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for local networking vendor Enterasys.

Enterasys Networks

For those of you who aren't familiar with Enterasys, the company is a direct descendent of Cabletron, a networking pioneer famous for hubs, an antipathy for internal meetings, and a wacky macho subculture. Cabletron spun off its product groups in 2000, leading to the creation of Enterasys to carry on in networking.

, but the company suffered through a number of weak management teams and financial scandals before it was taken private by the Gores Group in 2006. As part of this transition, the company hired industry veteran Mike Fabiaschi as its new president and CEO.

I only met Mike a few times, but he struck me as exactly what Enterasys needed. Mike was extremely candid about the company's weaknesses and challenges, but he was the consummate optimist. He told me that he planned to meet every customer he could, come clean on the company's problems, and work hard to maintain their business. In other words, Mike was going to lead by example, acting as the company evangelist and chief sales officer.

Mike's grit seemed to be paying off. Recently, Enterasys formed a joint venture with Siemens, creating a $5 billion entity focused on unified communications. It appeared that salesmanship and a good old Yankee work ethic were paying off.

Unfortunately, life isn't always fair. Last week, I learned that Mike Fabiaschi died in his sleep on September 22. He was only 53.

Mike was a sales guy's sales guy, but also a straight shooter that you couldn't help but like. My heart goes out to his family and the entire Enterasys organization, which has named Mark Stone of Gores as interim CEO.

Jon Oltsik is a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.