Grain Management’s LightRiver names Mike Jonas as CEO

LightRiver, a Grain Management-owned multi-vendor optical networking provider, has appointed Mike Jonas as its new CEO.

A veteran of LightRiver for over two decades, Jonas previously served as the company’s president of customer operations for over 10 years and was responsible for LightRiver’s business and technology development. His area of expertise also includes developing software, hardware and manufacturing technologies for military, law enforcement and the automotive industry.

Jonas takes the reins following the retirement of LightRiver Founder and CEO Glenn Johansen.

Mike Jonas (LightRiver)

“First, on behalf of everyone at LightRiver, I want to thank Glenn for his leadership in building an organization committed to integrity, excellence and innovation,” Jonas said in a statement. “I am excited to leverage that foundation as we take LightRiver to the next level, accelerating the adoption of open and disaggregated technologies, practical network automation and white glove managed services.”

Founded in 1998, LightRiver helps its customers design and deploy fiber transport networks using gear from vendor partners like Ciena, Cisco, Infinera and Nokia.

LightRiver currently supports about 150 customers across the telco, cloud and utility markets, most of whom are based in North America and the U.K., Jonas told Fierce, adding “accelerated network automation expansion in Canada and the EU is anticipated.”

Asked how he plans to grow the company in his new role, Jonas said, “in addition to continued evolution of our successful Factory Built Network Services and netFLEX Network Automation, we will be answering the call from our client base and providing related Day 2 Managed Services and monitoring solutions.”

In April 2022, private equity firm Grain Management acquired LightRiver for an undisclosed sum. Jonas told Fierce at the time the deal will help LightRiver grow its business both in the U.S. and abroad as well as allow the company to leverage Grain’s industry expertise and contacts.

“Under Glenn's leadership, LightRiver has grown into a market and technology leader,” stated Nikola Trkulja, managing director at Grain Management. “We are confident in Mike's ability to continue driving this successful business to greater heights, and we are pleased to welcome him as the new CEO.”

Aside from LightRiver, Grain has invested in companies such as Great Plains Communications, Ritter Communications, Summit Broadband, Hunter Communications and, most recently, Alaska-based fiber provider Quintillion.

A Grain rep told Fierce in May while private equity is a good tool for government funding, it is not a replacement for subsidies like the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, because federal programs can support regions “that may otherwise not be seen as economically viable.”