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JDS Uniphase Founder and CEO Stepping Down

Jozef Straus, the beret-wearing chief executive officer and co-chairman of optical networking company JDS Uniphase is retiring from the company he helped create, the company said Thursday.

Kevin Kennedy, currently a member of the company's board of directors, has been picked to succeed Straus, who announced he would retire as of Sept. 1. Syrus Madavi, president and chief operating officer of the company, also plans to exit the company after the new CEO has transitioned into the new role. Madavi had been recruited to help with the company's turnaround plan after it ran into the red during the technology recession. The company said it did not expect to fill the COO role.

The changes at the top come after a rough two years for the maker of optical networking and telecommunications gear, which once held the dubious honor of posting the largest annual loss in corporate history -- more than $56 billion in 2001. Much of the loss was from acquisitions that had lost their value after the market meltdown hit the sector in 2000.

The company lost $934 million during fiscal 2003.

Straus has been with the company for 20 years since he launched JDS Fitel in 1981, which eventually became part of JDS Uniphase. He was named CEO in 2000.

Although Straus is retiring as CEO, he is expected to retain a position on the board of directors and assume the roles of Founder Emeritus and Advisor to the CEO. In addition to those changes, the company said it would consolidate its corporate headquarters in San Jose as part of its ongoing restructuring. Since the market for telecommunications equipment imploded during the past two years, the company, which had co-headquarters in San Jose and Ottawa, Canada, has been closing plants and shedding workers.

Kennedy comes to the position as next CEO after serving as a member of the company's board of directors. Prior to joining the board, he was chief operating officer of software and programming company Openwave Systems .

Prior to joining Openwave in 2001, Kennedy was with Cisco for seven years. He also worked at Bell Labs for 17 years.

Shares of JDSU were up by about 9 percent to $3.48 after the announcement.