Ciena Corporation is a United States-based global supplier of telecommunications networking equipment, software, and services. The company was founded in 1992[1][2][3] and is headquartered in Hanover, Maryland.[4]

Ciena Corporation
Traded asNYSE: CIEN
S&P 400 Component
IndustryTelecommunications equipment
Founded1992 (1992)
United States
Key people
Patrick Nettles
(Executive Chairman)
Gary Smith
(President and CEO)
ProductsNetworking systems and products
Revenue$3.10 billion USD (2018)
$1.26 billion USD
Number of employees
6,013 (2018)


Ciena was founded in 1992 by David Huber and Kevin Kimberlin.[5][6] In 1994, Dallas, Texas-based venture capital firm Sevin Rosen invested $3.3 million in Ciena's Series A Venture financing.[7]

In late 1994, during the transition of the first high-speed optical backbone from public sector control of the National Science Foundation to private companies, Ciena began working with Sprint – an earlier carrier of Internet traffic – to develop "high-capacity fiber optic transmission systems called dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM)".[8] The outcome of their effort was the first commercial dense wave division multiplexing system. With it, the capacity increased "Sprint's nationwide, all-digital fiber-optic network by a stunning 1,600 percent."[9] Sprint therefore became the world's largest carrier of Internet traffic. With success from Sprint and others, Ciena's "first-year sales were the highest ever recorded by a start-up."[10]

In February 1997 Ciena completed the biggest initial public offering of a startup company ever, with a first-day valuation of $3.4 billion.[7] Subsequently, Goldman Sachs, in a research note, commented on the records set by Ciena: "1) steepest revenue ramp for any company in history, 2) most profitable company ever in its first year of product shipments, and 3) largest market capitalization of any new IPO."[11] By 2001, Ciena had achieved annual revenues of $1.6 billion[12] and a market capitalization of nearly $30 billion.

Despite setbacks along the way, Ciena continued to grow over the next few years, by both introducing new products and by acquiring companies such as Lightera (optical switches) and Omnia (local access equipment).

In 2000, Ciena announced the MultiWave Metro optical transport solution, which allowed metropolitan area networks to deliver particular frequencies to individual customer premises. By June 2000, Ciena's stock had soared to $120 per share, giving it a market capitalization exceeding $30 billion. Sales of the company's new line of products prompted the investor optimism, though some analysts were beginning to wonder whether the U.S. fiber optic network had been overbuilt. The customer list continued to grow as it approached 50 names.[13]

Market downturn and diversification

During 2001, the telecommunications market went through a severe downturn, and the segment that included Ciena's optical networking equipment fell by nearly 2/3 to $9.1 billion and in 2002, Ciena's revenues had declined 80% to $361 million.[14] To address the firm's challenges, Gary Smith, previously president and head of sales, was named CEO in May 2001, and Patrick Nettles, CEO since 1994, became executive chairman.

Over the next few years, Ciena re-grouped by expanding its product portfolio to include a broader range of advanced networking solutions, including optical switching, new generation hybrid gear and Ethernet technologies.

Ciena accomplished its diversification effort with internal development as well as a series of acquisitions and strategic partnerships. By 2004 Ciena had purchased a total of 11 firms (half prior to the downturn) with an aggregate value of over $3.3 billion.[15] With a broader range of offerings, Ciena was able both to offer its existing customers a wider range of solutions as well as compete for new customers in additional segments and regions.

On May 5, 2015, Ciena announced the acquisition of Cyan, Inc. – an American telecommunications company headquartered in Petaluma, California – in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $400 million.[16]

Ciena's acquisition history

Company acquiredClosed dateApproximate value
US$ million
DonRiver[17] Oct 1, 2018
Packet Design[18] Jul 2, 2018
TeraXion Feb 1, 2016 32
Cyan[19]Aug 3, 2015400
Nortel Metro Ethernet NetworksMar 19, 2010774
World Wide PacketsMar 3, 2008296
Internet PhotonicsMay 3, 2004100
Catena NetworksMay 3, 2004314
AkaraSep 3, 200346
WaveSmith NetworksJune 13, 2003178
ONI SystemsJune 21, 2002398
CyrasMar 29, 20011,100
Omnia CommunicationsJuly 1, 1999474
Lightera NetworksMar 31, 1999464
TerabitApr 22, 199812
Alta TelecomFeb 19, 199852
AstraComDec 17, 199713

Recent Events

In 2018, Ericsson, Telstra and Ciena demonstrated a record 400 gigabit/s transmission in Australia, enabling the equivalent of 1.2 million 4K ultra-high definition videos to be streamed simultaneously.[20]

In 2019, Ciena had 1500 clients worldwide, including 85% of the world's largest telecom service providers. The firm was ranked the leading optical networking innovator and supplier and the number one vendor of optical systems in the world.[21]

See also


  1. Markoff, John (3 March 1997). "Fiber-Optic Technology Draws Record Stock Value". The New York Times.
  2. Mullaney, Timothy (13 May 1997). "Ciena founder resigns to start new venture Huber quits supplier after Linthicum company shifts focus; Telecommunications". The Baltimore Sun.
  3. "History of Ciena" (PDF).
  4. "Ciena Corp Moving HQ to Station Ridge in Hanover". citybizlist Baltimore. citybizlist. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013.
  5. Anders, George (5 June 1998). "With Ciena, Investors Hit a Jackpot That's One for the Record Books". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  6. Hecht, Jeff (October 2016). "Boom, Bubble, Bust: The Fiber Optic Mania". Optics and Photonics News: Cover story.
  7. Mack, Toni (6 October 1997). "Communications: the Next Wave". Forbes.
  9. "Newsroom - Press Releases - Ciena". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  10. "Ciena Corp. built on dreams, risks Decision: Shareholders will vote Friday on the sale of the Linthicum telecommunications company, one of the most successful U.S. start-ups". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  11. Henry, Mary (July 30, 1997) Ciena Corporation – Breaking the Bandwidth Barrier, Goldman Sachs U.S. Research Report,
  12. Berk, Michael (13 December 2002). "Ciena Posts $1.8B Loss on Increased Revenue". The Baltimore Business Journal.
  13. "History of CIENA Corporation – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  14. "Annual Report". External link in |website= (help)
  15. Moritz, Scott (March 7, 2008) Ciena's Secret Weapon: Diversification, Forbes Magazine, Retrieved, Nov. 13, 2013
  16. "Ciena Announces Intent to Acquire Cyan" (Press release). Ciena Corporation. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  17. "Ciena Completes Acquisition of DonRiver - Ciena". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  18. "Ciena Completes Acquisition of Packet Design - Ciena". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  19. Hardy, Stephen (3 August 2015). "Ciena closes Cyan acquisition, begins integration". Lightwave. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  20. Saarinen, Juha (24 January 2018). "Telstra claims world's fastest transmission speeds". ITNews.
  21. Cisco IHS Markit Vendor Scorecard “Optical Network Hardware.” July 19, 2019   

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