Cisco's John Chambers Retiring Even More

Current Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins will step in as board chairman when ex-CEO John Chambers steps aside in December.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

September 18, 2017

3 Min Read
Cisco's John Chambers Retiring Even More

Cisco's Chuck Robbins will be getting new business cards. Robbins will soon add chairman of the board to his responsibilities, replacing longtime CEO John Chambers.

Chambers, who served as CEO of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) for 20 years until he was succeeded by Robbins in 2015, won't stand for re-election to the board in December, the company announced Monday. The board will appoint Robbins to serve as chairman when Chambers's term expires at the annual shareholder meeting December 11. On that date, Chambers will be named Chairman Emeritus.

Chambers was named executive chairman in 2015, after stepping aside as CEO, a position he had held since 1995.

Robbins said in an email to the board Wednesday, "It is time for Cisco to move on to its next generation of leadership including at the board and Chairman level and to position this seamlessly for the future. It is also time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life, on both a personal and business level." The email is addressed to Carol Bartz, lead independent director of the board.

Figure 1: Cisco's Chuck Robbins during his glam rock period at the Cisco Live conference this summer. Cisco's Chuck Robbins during his glam rock period at the Cisco Live conference this summer.

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Chambers joined Cisco in 1991 as head of sales. During Chambers's time as CEO, he built the company from $1.2 billion annual revenue to nearly $50 billion, according to the company statement.

More recently, Cisco has seen seven straight quarters of revenue decline as the company transitions from selling hardware and networking equipment to cloud, security and other functions offered as services. (See Cisco Revenue Decline Continues Into Q4.)

In June, Cisco announced a new strategic direction: "network intuitive." Rather than configuring networks using arcane tools and command-line syntax, network operators simply tell the network the outcomes they want -- their intent -- and the network configures itself. Robbins said at that time that network intuitive will be needed to keep up with mounting security threats and literally billions of Internet of Things devices coming online; manual configuration simply won't be able to keep up with the growing demands. (See Cisco's 'Network Intuitive': A Risky Transition.)

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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