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Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
12/20/2007
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Charles Giancarlo, the presumed No. 2 executive at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), has left the company to join a private equity firm.

Cisco announced today that Giancarlo, an executive vice president and Cisco's chief development officer, is off to another job -- "new professional opportunities," as the press release put it. (See Giancarlo Leaves Cisco and Giancarlo to Join Silver Lake.)

It's as much a surprise as the departure of rising-star exec Mike Volpi in February. One difference is that this time, Cisco put out a press release.

Another difference: We already know where Giancarlo's going -- to Silver Lake Partners , where he'll be a managing director effective Jan. 1.

Cisco just finished revamping its development organization, creating a council out of the seven vice presidents who report directly to Giancarlo. Part of the purpose, Giancarlo said at Cisco's analyst conference, was to speed the creation of new, integrated products. (See Cisco Reorgs CDO.)

Giancarlo isn't being replaced, so the CDO council will now report to CEO John Chambers directly, working with him to continue Cisco's transformation. The company still sells routers, but it wants to be better known for video, and it's got some high designs on the networked home.

They'll also have the help of newly hired chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior, recently recruited out of Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT). (See Cisco's New CTO and Cisco's CTO Train.)

As for why Giancarlo left, he implied on a conference call today that Chambers's commitment to remain CEO another three to five years was a factor. "Do the math: I'm 50 years old this year, and my decision-making process at 55 might be different than it is today," he said. "I think there'll be the right generational change at Cisco when that day comes, and I think that probably is going to be further out than would be appropriate for me."

Giancarlo, who'd been CTO briefly, was elevated to the title of CDO in 2005. His purview included Cisco's consumer efforts, namely the Linksys product line.

When Volpi, then head of the routing and service provider technology group, quit to become CEO of Joost , Giancarlo was presumed to be second-in-command, heir apparent to Chambers. (See Volpi Out at Cisco and Volpi Takes the Helm at Joost.)

The position was enough to make Giancarlo tops in our Top 10 Movers & Shakers list earlier this year.

Giancarlo has spent 14 years at Cisco, having arrived via the acquisition of Kalpana.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:50:28 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
Well, be careful comparing Cisco's "collaboration" craze with "management-by-committee." They're not the same. Cisco is talking about using collaboration to speed operations -- the opposite effect of the committee approach -- and it has more to do with processes than with decision-making.

That said, you've glanced on what I think is a key point: The new model makes it tougher for individuals to stand out, which is sure to cross the ambitions of certain executives.

But a few will get their shot. Giancarlo did; he just (apparently) balked at having to wait five more years for the next step. I've mentioned Ned Hooper elsewhere; after making his name in M&A, he's being challenged with a role that will test his managment prowess.
Stefan Sip
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Stefan Sip,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:50:26 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
When Chambers goes into politics, Craig should be his press secretary. The spin, I mean, description of collaboration and management by committee is artful.
Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:50:25 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
LOL. Nice barb, Stefan, but I honestly don't equate what Cisco's doing and the management-by-committee (aka. decision by compromise) of old.
Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:57:04 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
Updated the story with details on Giancarlo's decision, which he says came earlier this week.

I wonder if he sees a chance, through Silver Creek, to end up as CEO of another company (he wouldn't specify when asked during a press conference today).
DCITDave
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DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:57:04 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
i'd imagine the guy can write his own ticket now, so it'll be interesting to see what he does. seems a vc firm is as good a place as any to sit back and watch what opportunities come by.

ph
lightminded
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lightminded,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:57:03 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
it's interesting that Giancarlo, a technologist, goes to a private equity company that aquires companies typically well beyond their prime. to your point, silver lake seems like a technology junk yard in comparison to a a start up or a vc. he must have felt very marginalized in the last reorg...
Honestly
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Honestly,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:57:03 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
Charlie has been the no.2 for a long time, Volpi never had a chance at Chambers' job. No way Charlie was going to hang around and wait for John to run for public office as many thought at times. John just cannot give it up. As usual Cisco is spinning a good story and as long as John is CEO the stock will stay solid, short of major recession.

As for volpi, Joost, NO BIG
Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:57:02 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
Lightminded -- You're right about Silver Lake, but I'm thinking a PE firm gives Giancarlo more access to larger companies. It could be that he doesn't want to helm a startup and would rather work the turnaround of something like an Avago. Just a guess.

Your point about marginalization has me thinking. Under Cisco's new "collaboration" cult, it's probably going to be more difficult for individuals to stand out. No one wants to be labeled an egoist, but .... you have to wonder if the more ambitious execs will be dissatisfied under the new model.
Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:57:00 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
I like it.
btierney
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btierney,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:57:00 PM
re: Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake
Was never impressed with him. He didn't have the stature and presence that cisco deserves.

as to trzwuip.... do you check under your bed at night for goblins? yikes
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