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Lord of the Photon Spins a Light Verse

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Gaynell Terrell

Kevin Kalkhoven has had a good year, so it is understandable that he was feeling rather buoyant when he addressed the exclusive dinner concluding the executive forum of the 25th annual Optical Fiber Communication Conference.

He was introduced, in fact, as Lord of the Photon.

The chief executive of JDS Uniphase Corp., however, dished out more devilry than details on how his company has merged and acquired its way to the top. Accompanied by a slide show of caricatures of Kalkhoven and his business buddies conquering the world, his talk was an insider's joke spun in verse -- supposedly the ancient prophecies of Photonostradamus, the errant brother of 16th-century astrologer Nostradamus:

"Not just by day/but on through the night/all good people/shall be shepherded by light./One shall become many/and many shall become one,/all broad roads/will roll into one."

Amusing -- but weird.

Admission to the forum, luncheon included, was $600 per person. And about half of the 300 people at the forum, some of whom signed up just to hear Kalkhoven say important things, were turned away from the dinner because they hadn't made a separate reservation. Ironically, Kalkhoven didn't say anything important.

"I didn't think his talk was very statesmanlike," said one industry market researcher.

The most-cited code word from attendees was "disappointing."

But then, Kalkhoven didn't get to be Lord of the Photon by giving away his business plan. As he said:

"The wider my net/the more light they shall get./My price is so cheap,/it's the cost of your souls."

Photonics Spectra
May 2000
Businesslight speed

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