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August 10, 2000
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As I mentioned before, my family had the opportunity to be guests at Redback Networks in Sunnyvale yesterday morning. I'll just give a quick report on the visit for anyone that is interested.
Imagine our surprise we when pulled up at the front door (20 or so minutes late due to the Silicon Valley rush hour) to be met by a television camera, an interviewer from Silicon Valley Business show, the Redback PR Director, the Redback Director of Investor Relations and two consultants from the marketing/consulting firm for Redback/Juniper/Palm(and other firms as well like Fatbrain.com). I believe they will air the clip on the weekend edition of Silicon Valley Business in the Bay Area this weekend, but I don't have confirmation of the date and time yet.
We had asked Redback if it would be willing to give our kids a tour since all family members happen to be investors in Redback Networks as one of our gorilla game candidates. They invited us as guests and gave us the royal tour. We met and visited with the new CEO, Vivek Ragavan as well as the CFO, Craig Gentner. Mr. Ragavan had just returned from an appearance on CNBC. He presented the kids with some Redback presents (backpacks, flashlights, water bottles and red M&M's). The kids loved it, of course. Mr. Gentner fielded the question from my son as to how the name Redback was chosen by the company as the name. The kids got a good laugh when the story was told.
The entire idea of the tour was that we are attempting to teach our children about investing. Everyone on this board can attest to the difficulties of researching, understanding and developing thoughts as investors about SMS, the multi-service optical platform of Smart Edge, the synergy of the Abitis Systems recent acquisition announcement and the new CEO appointment of Mr. Ragavan. Now, try to explain some of that to a 5 and 7 year old who live in Vienna, Austria and only know it by the ticker symbol of RBAK going across the screen before the remote is yanked out of my hands in favor of cartoons in German.
Redback HQ is still located in the leased building in Sunnyvale which houses the financial team, the executive team, the sales team and staff. The 350 engineers are located at the new facility which will also house the entire company once building is completed on that facility. This new facility will be owned by Redback Networks. A similar situation is taking place at Brocade Communications where they are set to move into their new facility later this year. We were able to see one of Redback's products (a box as my son called it) at the HQ which they have set up for testing. Considering we were being followed around by a television camera, the formality of the tour had an effect on the Q&A's, but I was very impressed by the entire operation at the HQ. I should probably be posting this over on the Redback message board because there are a couple of neat tidbits which we should add to the FAQ being developed on that board about the name of Redback being chosen and why they dropped the logo of the Redback spider.
After the tour, we responded to some questions on camera and then had the chance to visit with the PR Director and the Redback marketing/consulting firm. We talked about the management changes in a very, very positive manner as to why the strategic change was implemented. We also discussed niche markets and tornado strategy of Redback and Juniper. No need to mention they know the Moore books quite well. I was interested to hear how the consulting/marketing firm ties in with the development of an emerging company like Redback and Juniper. Quite interesting to tell you the truth. This discussion is, of course, right up a gorilla gamer's chain of thought in studying the technology adoption life cycle.
I wouldn't dare say anything negative about the broader companies of a Cisco or a Nortel as we're also all investors in Cisco. When building a portfolio using the strategies learned in "Chasm", "Tornado", "Gorilla Game" and "Fault Line" - I continue to believe that a strategic mix in a basket of these niche emerging specialists is the one for me to take with my own money. The growth wave is strong and the opportunity is too compelling for me. A company like Redback seems to be executing exactly like a 'textbook' case of what they should be doing at this stage of the game. I knew all of that before yesterday's visit, but it was a nice treat to add some names and faces behind the investment.
One of the directors became a fan of mine when he said that he attended a Wagner opera in Vienna while there on vacation and fell asleep after the first 30 minutes. As Mike Buckley and Tekboy know, I'm no fan of Wagner and wish they could have been in the room for that comment. I responded that I could get 12 hours of sleep and drink 3 pots of coffee and still not make it through 30 minutes of a Wagnerian opera before dipping my head. <ggg>
The kids loved the visit and were chattering in the car about it for the rest of the day. We also visited Apple and dropped in at a couple of other firms briefly - nothing to the extent of the Redback morning visit. The red M&M's were, of course, downed before we even got out of Silicon Valley. I would encourage any of you with children who are attempting to educate them about investing and why we invest to take the time to try and arrange a visitation at one of their investments at some point in the future. It may not all sink in during the initial stages, but over time the value of the exercise will begin to take shape.
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