How a Contrarian CEO Beat the Optical Bubble Burst

Advanced Fiber Systems or AFS was recently sold to Zayo Group and straight shooting CEO Dave Rusin just sent out the following letter about stepping down. As he mentions below – over 1,500 telecom companies went bankrupt this past decade and hundreds of billions of dollars were flushed down the toilet. Why did Dave’s company make it through? The letters and videos tell the story.

It’s been 10 –years since Founding American Fiber Systems and as of Friday, we will complete our merger with the Zayo Group.


We are having a positive exit for our investors as I depart we sold at the recent multiple peak and market high.  Over ten years we beat all the odds – internet economy collapse, telecom economy collapse/accounting scandals,  9/11 terrorist attacks, the IRAQ war, the Afghanistan war and the recent corruption of Wall Street nearly bring down America and the Global community.  Yes, all these things affect a business.  I did not build AFS alone though I started with nothing, it was the people of AFS that built this business under a strategy developed during 1999 that was spot on and has not changed in ten years.  We grew at an annual CAGR of 35%+.  Our numbers are private but on a benchmarking basis we meet or crush most public companies on a benchmark basis in the telecom services data sector.  Our churn is extremely low.   Statistically speaking, there has been over 1500 telecom bankruptcies over these ten years and hundreds of billions of invested dollars and market capitalization lost.  Not a fun ten years outside of what you control!  Why we succeeded – I attribute it to the story of the Tortoise and the Hare … we chose the Tortoise route.


Call us lucky, call us smart … customer focus & service is the value proposition backed by a culture of integrity and moral (not what’s legal) values.  For me at least, God has been a major part of this journey and over the years we have had many long meditative discussions.  His guidance was present.


The Zayo Group has some nice AFS platforms to expand upon going forward as a national player.  I wish Dan Caruso, CEO of Zayo, Zayo investors and Dan’s crew, all the best as an industry leader.


As of Friday, I will no longer be with AFS – I am a free agent.  And, I do not have a non-compete restriction and theoretically I could open AFS II next week.  I am required to protect AFS company confidential information.  But with 30-years of knowledge and success in things ranging from speech processing/recognition to chip fabrication to software applications to digital imaging to telecom hardware to telecom services I have yet to determine what direction is next. Throw in about a decade plus worth of International work experience and perhaps now you understand why I look at things differently than most.! 


I have had several opportunities presented to me but for the time being I need some time for my family and to assist any former AFS employees not retained by Zayo, in getting them a job placement is my top priority – we’re like family.  AFS has very good stock of talent grounded in morals and ethics second to none – contact me if you are looking for real talent well versed in customer focus and a disdain for counter productive corporate politics or gamesmanship/


I have attached an updated VCard for your records in the event you have a need to reach out to me or have a question of our industry, growing a business, leadership, creating a winning culture, values, policies, strategy, start-ups, raising capital and finding/hiring talent to execute plans.


If you have been part of the past ten years, I thank you for your support – good or bad – as your interactions furthered my knowledge and growth.  I am anticipating maintaining my blog after a slight hiatus.  I mention this so my buddy Jules at the FCC won’t be disappointed.


Until we meet again … best of health to you and remember:  the softest pillow is a clear conscience.


Most sincerely,

Dave Rusin


Here are two interview videos I had with Rusin in the past:


Oh and while we are on the topic of fiber – be sure to check out the Lightwave One event taking place in conjunction with ITEXPO next week in Los Angeles, CA – Oct 4-6, 2010. Meet with companies such as JDSU, XKL, BTI, Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, NTT, ADVA Optical Networking, VMWare, NoaNet, Corning, CommScope, Fluke Networks, Berk-Tek, Omnitron, MRV Communications, Sumitomo Electric, Motorola, Finisar and Ericsson.

    Leave Your Comment


    Share via
    Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap