Avaya Takes Its New CEO From JDS Uniphase

Enterprise communications systems vendor is making moves to fill its vacant CEO position today, announcing that it’s hired JDS Uniphase chief Kevin Kennedy to take over the company’s top spot in January.

Kennedy will be joining Avaya from JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ: JDSU), a communications measurement and optical products manufacturer where eh currently serves as CEO and president. He announced his resignation from the company during its quarterly earnings call yesterday.

Avaya’s acting CEO Charles Giancarlo, who stepped into the position in June when former CEO Lewis D’Ambrosio left for medical reasons, will become chairman of the board once Kennedy joins in January, Avaya spokesperson Lynn Newman told InternetNews.com.

JDS Uniphase did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Kennedy will bring lots of experience to his new post at Avaya. He was previously Openwave Systems’ chief operating officer, before which he spent eight years at Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO). He also previously worked for AT&T Bell Laboratories for 17 years. In 1987, Kennedy became a congressional fellow to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Privately held Avaya has high hopes for the capabilities Kennedy will bring, because he “has extensive knowledge of the industry, especially in our sweet spot, which is enterprise communications,” Newman said.

The company has been aggressive in attacking its market, coming out with an enterprise extension for the iPhone back in November of last year. This was well before Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) kicked off the frenzy to get iPhones into the enterprise.

Kennedy’s hiring is part of Avaya’s strategy to “be No. 1 in enterprise communications,” Newman said, adding that the company has “brought in other senior management as part of that strategy.”

Those hires include Todd Abott, who joined the company in May as senior vice president for global sales, replacing Charlie Ill. Tom Manley joined as CFO in July, replacing replace Caroline Dorsa, while within the past month, Avaya also brought on board Alan Baratz, who joined as interim head of its global communications solutions group.

Meanwhile, Giancarlo will serve as chairman of the company he joined just earlier this year. Giancarlo came from private technology investment firm Silver Lake, a co-owner of Avaya.

Together with global private investment firm TPG Capital, Silver Lake acquired Avaya in October 2007 for about $8.3 billion to take it private. Prior to the acquisition, Avaya, which had been spun off from Lucent in 2000, had been listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Going private was a good thing because “it gives us the opportunity to do work for the long term, and we don’t have to focus on analysts’ quarterly reports and on the stock market,” Newman said.

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