Sarnoff’s Songbird Tries a New Tune

Management Moves

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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the July 24, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Life in the Fast Lane

Some good news: Sarnoff Corporation and its partners

could get up to $24 million from the federal government to work on

three projects relating to defense technologies. These monies were

added to a House Defense Appropriations bill HR 5010 passed June 27,

and two of the three programs have been included in the Senate version

of the bill. "The odds of the bill’s passing are very high,"

says a spokesperson for U.S. Representative Rush Holt, who supported

the bill.

Included in both current versions of the bill are $7 million for a

Bug to Drug Identification and Countermeasures program (to combat

as yet-unknown biological warfare agents) and $8 million for the Applied

Communications and Information Networking (ACIN) program administered

at Fort Monmouth. ACIN pairs Department of Defense software developers

with their academic and industry peers to improve communication between

soldiers in the field and their command centers. Sarnoff partners

with Drexel University on this.

The third component, $5 million for digital motion imagery tools and

techniques, could get put back in the bill later this fall. This Digital

Video Laboratory program was established at Eglin Air Force Base last

year. It works on how motion imagery and related information is collected,

managed, and analyzed.

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Sarnoff’s Songbird Tries a New Tune

Disposable hearing aids were supposed to be the healthcare

innovation comparable to the discovery of sliced bread, but the investors

in Songbird Hearing, a Sarnoff spinoff, have been disappointed by

sales. So last week they brought in a turnaround CEO, Thomas E. Gardner,

to replace Fred Fritz, the founding CEO, who stays as vice president.

Sometimes a new name at the top is just what’s needed, and several

times Gardner has been the person brought in to kickstart a foundering

company. Gardner grew up in Toledo, and graduated in 1970 from the

University of St. Thomas. He has worked at Proctor & Gamble, Johnson

& Johnson, Simon & Schuster, Dun & Bradstreet, and Access Health.

As the turn-around CEO for Base Ten in 1997, Gardner turned to making

software for manufacturing drugs, while the defense arm of Base Ten

went forward as Strategic Technologies, (U.S. 1, November 12, 1997),

which was later sold at a profit. Two years later, at age 51, Gardner

resigned. The company struggled for another year and exists as a shell

corporation.

Gardner took another turnaround job as CEO of Datamonitor, a United

Kingdom-based business information company that offers research and

advice to Fortune 1000 clients. He arrived in February, 2000, and

in November of that year took the company public on the London Stock

Exchange. He left the company earlier this month to join Songbird.

"I’m a professional CEO — I take small start-up companies

and help them to get to the next stage of development," says Gardner.

"To me this is a terrific opportunity. I haven’t seen one so attractive

since I helped take Tylenol into the consumer markets in 1975. There

is an unmet consumer need, and we have an innovative product that

will bring better hearing to the mild to moderately hearing impaired

— a market that is underserved."

His game plan is to emphasize distribution through retail channels,

a partnership with the Boots drugstore chain in the United Kingdom

and with National Vision and Hearing, which is in Wal-Mart stores

in the United States. "Just as you can get eyeglasses at Wal-Mart,

so you will be able to get a hearing exam and buy our product at Wal-Mart,"

says Gardner.

Songbird Hearing Inc., 5 Cedar Brook Drive, Cedar

Brook Corporate Center, Cranbury 08512. 609-409-4500; fax, 609-409-4510.

Thomas Gardner, CEO. Www.songbirdhearing.com

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Management Moves

The current occupant of Base Ten’s former building on

Electronics Drive has had a change in its CEO. Andy Quinn has replaced

Chuni Ghosh, founder of Princeton Optronics. Ghosh recently moved

his firm from Princeton-Hightstown Road to the former Base Ten building,

where there are 54 employees (U.S. 1, August 8, 2001). "As the

company prepares for product introduction of the PowerSweep 2000TM

tunable laser, Andy’s industry experience will be critical in helping

to manage growth, expand the customer base, maintain financial discipline,

and achieve our business goals," says Ghosh.

Quinn has roots in Lucent Technologies, where he directed the optoelectronics

group that is now part of Agere Systems. His most recent job was as

president of North America and chief operating officer for Bookham

Technologies in the UK. He also founded Spectracom Inc., which was

sold to ADC, and has worked for Nortel Networks.

Quinn went to the University of Glasgow, Class of 1976. He joins a

team with several Lucent connections, including Timothy Hays, vice

president of marketing, Joe Cannon, vice president of manufacturing,

and Sunil Phatak, vice president of business development. Chris Lynch,

chief financial officer, was formerly with Marriott and Merrill Lynch.

Ghosh is a Sarnoff and ITT alumnus.

Princeton Optronics, 1 Electronics Drive, Mercerville

08619, Box 8627, Princeton 08540. Andy Quinn, CEO. 609-584-9696; fax,

609-584-2448. Home page: www.princetonoptronics.com


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