Level 3 co-founder O'Hara leaves


Some late-breaking news for you: Level 3 Communications president and chief operating officer Kevin O'Hara, who was also co-founder of the carrier, has resigned, effective immediately. No word yet on what he will do next.

His resignation was the most prominent in a series of intriguing management moves Level 3 announced today, which also included the retention of Sunit Patel as chief financial officer. The company had said late last year that Patel would be leaving his role as CFO and could be re-assigned.

Level 3 has been struggling with the task of integrating numerous acquisitions it made in recent years, and while it has taken hits financially, the root of its problems appeared to be more in the operational realm. At least, maybe that's the conclusion Level 3 CEO James Crowe reached over the last few months since Patel's departure was announced.

O'Hara just spoke at the Raymond James Institutional Investors Conference in Orlando a week ago, and remarked candidly that Level 3 had experienced service activation and installation delays due to the challenge of integrating several legacy systems from its acquired companies. He said the company eventually had to call in third-party help. But, Level 3 had publicly admitted to such challenges in recent months, so perhaps O'Hara's fate was already sealed.

During Level 3's M&A binge, the company stuck to a mantra that it was saving the wholesale bandwidth market from suicidal price battles. Meanwhile, some of its buys hinted that perhaps Level 3 was ahead of other companies in seeing how online video and peer-to-peer practices were leading to explosive bandwidth growth and new bandwidth management challenges.

However, those intentions, whether good or merely greedy, didn't save O'Hara, and the firm's ongoing struggles serve as a reminder that the integration of legacy service support systems isn't something consolidation-happy companies can easily overlook. - Dan

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