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Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again

The routing guru is off to pursue startup life again, with Procket's former COO

September 21, 2005

2 Min Read
Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again

Router guru Tony Li has packed his bags, again leaving {dirlink 2|19} (Nasdaq: CSCO) and again joining a startup.

Li has reunited with Procket Networks COO Vito Palermo at Portola, an embryonic startup looking to improve content delivery on the Internet. Li will head up Portola's engineering team and will be responsible for its technology.

A veteran of Cisco and {dirlink 12|20} (Nasdaq: JNPR), Li was hired by core-router startup Procket in 2000. Procket didn't fly, however, and Cisco eventually bought the intellectual property and some engineers. Li did some consulting before getting rehired by Cisco in December 2004. (See Procket Processes a Dream Team, Li Finally Quits Procket, and Tony Li Returns to Cisco.)

"Cisco the second time was a lot like Cisco the first time, only both of us were older and wiser," Li tells Light Reading in an email.He won't be building a router at Portola, but it appears he'll be tackling some problems associated with IP routing. Portola aims to provide a service to content providers and content aggregators, allowing them to offer the automatic downloading of content to arbitrary devices including cell phones.

The plan will likely involve Portola buying network capacity from carriers, but the company's delivery mechanism won't shun the wider Internet. "There's an amount of routing and route selection that goes into how you use the system. You still use the Internet, but you can intelligently use the Internet," Palermo says.

The idea is to make life easier for Internet consumers, but without counting on the finicky consumer market for revenues. The service might require some client software, but that software would be bundled into the consumer devices, Palermo expects.

"I originally wanted to build a box that sat in the home to make all this easier. The conclusion that I came to was that there are enough boxes in the home, and they have enough horsepower, in CPUs and software, to make this possible," Palermo says. "This was an opportunity for us to shift our thinking from the development of hardware for the Internet to the development of services."

Palermo hasn't yet sought venture funding for the six-person startup, saying he preferred to fund the company himself, then seek venture partners once enough milestones had been reached."I would expect to be doing that sometime soon," he says.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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