5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Jan. 29

Topping this week's roundup of companies that had a rough week is Cisco, which was hit with an antitrust lawsuit by a competing networking company.

Also making the list were Microsoft's Surface tablets for experiencing a wireless network failure during the NFL AFC championship game; Cognizant and HCL, which were named in lawsuits alleging they provided H-1B visa workers to replace employees at Disney World; more bad sales performance news from Black Box Network Services; and an executive exodus at Twitter.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's 5 Companies That Came To Win roundup.

Cisco Hit With Antitrust Suit Charging The Company 'Punished' Customers For Going Multivendor

Cisco Systems found itself on the wrong end of an antitrust lawsuit this week, brought by Arista Networks, alleging that Cisco uses its SmartNet maintenance contracts to punish customers that buy alternative network switches.

Arista, a fast-growing manufacturer of multilayer network switches for software-defined networking applications, claims that Cisco engages in "anti-competitive" bundling of SmartNet. The suit specifically alleges Cisco charges a "tax" penalty for organizations that go multivendor, buying Ethernet switches from other vendors, by charging them higher prices for product maintenance and service.

In a blog post, Mark Chandler, Cisco's general counsel and chief compliance officer, calls the lawsuit's charges "bogus."

Wireless Problem Leads to Microsoft Tablet Failure At AFC Championship Game

New England Patriots coaches and players were unable to review plays on their Microsoft Surface tablets during part of the NFL's AFC championship game Sunday because of a wireless networking problem.

The use of Surface tablets by NFL teams is part of a $400 million deal that Microsoft inked with the league in 2013 to promote the product. But during the second quarter of Sunday's game Patriots coaches complained that the tablets weren't working.

Microsoft said the problems were related to the wireless network, rather than the tablets themselves, and the issues were resolved by switching to a hardwire network. But in a news conference Monday Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said problems with the performance of the tablets are "pretty common" on game days. "Sometimes they work," he said, "sometimes they don't."

Cognizant, HCL Named In Disney H-1B Visa Worker Suits

Outsourcing giants Cognizant and HCL Technologies were sued this week and accused of conspiring with Walt Disney World to replace American employees with foreign workers on temporary visas.

Federal lawsuits filed by former Disney workers claim that Cognizant and HCL violated laws relating to the H-1B skilled-worker visa program by enabling Disney to displace U.S. workers.

The suits claim that over the past two years hundreds of Disney employees were fired and immediately replaced with cheaper workers supplied by Cognizant and HCL.

Black Box CEO Takes Underperforming Sale Reps To Task -- Again

Black Box Network Services reported its third-quarter results this week. And it wasn't pretty. Revenue was down 12 percent year over year in the solution provider's fourth consecutive quarter of declining sales and the numbers missed Wall Street's expectations.

As he did during the second-quarter earnings call three months ago, CEO Michael McAndrew pointed the finger at the Pittsburgh company's commercial sales reps for missing their targets – despite an ongoing effort to restructure the sales force. Because of the shortfall the company reduced its target revenue for the year from as high as $930 million to as low as $905 million.

McAndrew, of course, has no reason to be diplomatic given that he has announced plans to leave the company and is staying on only until a successor is named.

Departures Trigger Turmoil At Twitter

Questions about Twitter's future continued this week with the news that four key executives are leaving the social media company.

CEO Jack Dorsey announced a management shakeup Sunday after word leaked out that engineering executive Alex Roetter, product executive Kevin Weil, human resources manager Skip Schipper and media partnerships executive Katie Stanton were all leaving the company.

Growth in the number of Twitter's users has slowed as the company has struggled to broaden its audience. Twitter, founded in 2006, has never been profitable.