3Com pledges to learn from Bay mistakes

The bosses of 3Com and US Robotics (USR) pledged yesterday to learn from the merger mistakes of Bay Networks.

"We both have a long history of doing acquisitions so we're aware of how to leverage our strengths," said Eric Benhamou, 3Com chairman and CEO. "We're actually very grateful to the Bay people for the list of things not to do with a transaction like this. It took about two months to name the company 'Bay' and lose the equity of Wellfleet [Communications] and Synoptics [Communications]. We're not going to have political fights for every position. We're going to cut through this very quickly. The new company will be called 3Com but that doesn't mean the USR brand is going to go away."

Benhamou said the combination would lead to "perhaps the most balanced company in the world" with strength in every area of data networking, and dovetailing products, channels and strategies: "In retail, for example, it shouldn't be too difficult for stores to put a 3Com NIC next to a Sportster [modem]."

USR chairman and CEO Casey Cowell said his firm had initiated the merger. "Lots of people know us for portable modems but don't recognise we're the largest player in WAN remote access with our Total Control family of products. America Online is virtually 100 per cent USR network access equipment through USR Total Control. CompuServe is virtually 100 per cent USR network access equipment through Total Control. IBM Global Network is virtually 100 per cent USR network access equipment through USR Total Control. Bandwidth is going to go up at the edge of the wide area network. ADSL and cable will lead to something between 30 and 150 times increases. There's the opportunity to go much faster. We felt we had that and were investigating what to do on the local area network side ... it was obviously 3Com."

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