Dolce & Others out at Juniper

Phil Harvey

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) lost a mighty big suit today as it announced that Jim Dolce, former Unisphere Networks CEO, has left the company as part of a "structured succession plan."

In a statement, Juniper says Dolce, who holds the title of executive VP, worldwide field operations, "is leaving the company to pursue personal interests outside of Juniper." (See Juniper Shuffles Management.)

The timing of Dolce's exit is interesting, given the scrutiny Juniper has come under lately for its business direction and marketing decisions. (See Juniper's Marketing Mystery, Juniper Sues LR Message Boarders, and Juniper's Secret.) One analyst yesterday wrote in a note to clients that, as carriers begin to focus more on the network's edge, "other competitors stand well-positioned to grow market share." (See Analyst: Juniper Faces Tougher Times.)

It's not as though Juniper is losing the edge market, but that battleground has become a focal point for the company's health and growth. "Juniper has about 50 percent market share in the B-RAS (broadband remote access server) edge router market – a roughly $650 million market growing solidly over 20 percent per year," writes Citigroup analyst Alex Henderson, in a note released today just minutes after Dolce's departure was announced.

"Their installed base in the edge is huge and they need to defend that first," says Rick Thompson, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. (See HR Sees B-RAS Role Expanding.) Thompson says that Juniper is leading the B-RAS pack at the moment, but as service providers come to the table with more video requirements for their edge networks, "the competition is getting harder for them."

Dolce's 2004 salary and bonuses totaled more than $560,000, making him the fourth highest paid executive at the company. He came to Juniper as part of the company's acquisition of Unisphere. He was CEO of Unisphere for two years and VP of that company's data products group for less than a year before that. (See Unisphere Appoints Jim Dolce as President and Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M.)

Eddie Minshull, head of Juniper's EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) operations will take over as executive VP of worldwide field operations. Jeff Lindholm, head of Juniper's worldwide sales organization for three and a half years, is taking the title of chief marketing officer, a role that's been vacant at Juniper for quite a while.

"Juniper has been slow to update its marketing strategy, and a revamped marketing effort could be a good catalyst for the stock," writes Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. analyst Simon Leopold, in a note this morning.

Interestingly, Dolce is only one of three executives leaving Juniper. The other two have barely any time served, and both have entrepreneurial backgrounds.

The company announced that Carol Mills, executive VP and general manager of the company's infrastructure products group was leaving "to increase her Board of Directors activity and pursue other outside interests." Mills just joined Juniper in 2004; she was working at a consulting firm at the time. (See Juniper Names Infrastructure GM.)

And Jef Graham, executive VP of Juniper's application products group, is leaving to become CEO of a private company. Graham, the former CEO of Peribit Networks, just got to Juniper when his company was acquired last year. (See Juniper Takes Two: Peribit & Redline.)

Is it any coincidence that three EVP-level folks are heading for the door at once? Juniper says yes, adding that the company was ready for the transition.

"The decisions for Jim, Carol, and Jef leaving the company are all based on specific individual decisions," writes Juniper spokeswoman Susan Ursch in an email response to Light Reading's phone calls. "These management changes are part of a planned and structured succession plan. The timing for the departures is a reflection of planning and forethought as we completed 2005 and embark on 2006."

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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