Huawei U.S. Channel Chief Claus Departs

Rob Claus, long-term channel chief at Huawei Enterprise Business Group, has left the company for a top sales position at videoconferencing startup Tely Labs, CRN has learned.

Claus had served as Huawei's vice president of U.S. channel sales and marketing since September 2011. In that role, he was responsible for implementing and growing a channel base for Huawei Enterprise U.S.A., the Cupertino, Calif.-based arm of Chinese telecom and networking giant Huawei.

In a message to CRN via LinkedIn, Claus said he was "grateful" for his time at Huawei, but that the opportunity he saw with Tely Labs was "too good to pass up."

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"Tely Labs is a very hot company and it was a great fit for my background [in] video conferencing and channel recruitment and development," Claus said.

Huawei did not immediately respond to CRN's request for comment on Claus' replacement.

Claus' departure from Huawei comes as the company continues to face an uphill battle in the U.S. market. In 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives labeled Huawei a "national security risk," alleging the company could serve as a back door for the Chinese government to spy on U.S. communications and data traffic.

Since then, Huawei has continued to defend itself against similar allegations from government agencies in the Australia and the U.K.

Claus' departure from Huawei Enterprise is a bit of a disappointment, said Steve Rovarino, president of Red Rover, a Reno, Nev.-based networking solution provider and Huawei channel partner.

"Claus was a very good guy," Rovarino said. "He was very honorable with Huawei. He came on board early on with the launch of Huawei Enterprise, and [was] really instrumental in putting together a good channel program and carrying through on it."

Rovarino also said that, despite the security allegations, 2013 was a good year for Huawei sales.

"It's one of the strongest years I've had representing Huawei," he said. "The biggest challenge is the political rumblings. When Huawei said it might pull out of the U.S. market, it meant the telco market. But that raised a lot of questions in the U.S."

In April, there was speculation that Huawei was pulling out of the U.S. market altogether, after Huawei Deputy Chairman Eric Xu told analysts that the company is "not interested in the U.S. market anymore." Huawei later said Xu's comments referred only to Huawei's U.S. carrier business, not its enterprise business.

Huawei executives told CRN in August that they are committed to building out a presence in the U.S. enterprise market, along with a loyal base of channel partners to help make that happen. Huawei said in August that the company has signed on between 75 and 100 partners since the formal launch of its channel program in 2011, and that its intent in the U.S. is to sell 100 percent indirect.