Cisco's Chief Strategy Officer Quits

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) CEO John Chambers and COO Gary Moore took to the company blog Tuesday to drop this doozy: Ned Hooper is leaving the company to form an independent investment company "and to pursue his goal to be a principal investor."

Hooper was viewed as one possible candidate to succeed Chambers when he was named chief strategy officer in 2009. (See Hooper's Ascent Continues at Cisco.)

Hooper, a 13-year Cisco vet who's been spending part of his time managing the company's US$2 billion investment portfolio, has been working on his exit plan for months, and apparently will still be in the picture at Cisco, to a degree. "We look forward to partnering with him in his new endeavor," the Cisco execs added.

He'll evidently get a chance to expand on some of the things he's been doing at Cisco, which included leading up some large-scale acquisitions such as Tandberg ASA, WebEx Communications, Pure Digital Technologies (whoops), Starent Networks and, most recently, NDS Ltd. , which is still going through.

Hooper's team now reports to CTO Padmasree Warrior, who rises to becomes chief technology and strategy officer. In that role, she's also tasked with "identifying customer and industry transitions and determining Cisco's strategy to address them." Additionally, Cisco's business group CTOs will report "dotted line" to Warrior.

In another significant move, Pankaj Patel, who has developed Cisco's service provider business, will now head up Cisco's engineering organization.

Chambers and Moore said said the changes come amid a "long-standing belief has always been that companies need to evolve to drive forward and lead through market transitions ... Now the time is right for us to drive the next phase of our organization evolution."

Why this matters
Cisco knows a thing or two about how to weather changes these days. The latest executive shift is just the most recent in a string of moves that have come about since the company initiated a major reorganization. In Warrior, it appears that Cisco has someone groomed and ready to take on the additional and important strategic role. But today's executive shuffle will no doubt raise more questions about who's in line to succeed Chambers, and when.

Also, Hooper's decision to form an investment firm may spark speculation that Cisco could eventually widen its pursuit of "spin-in" companies. (See Cisco's Spin-In Team Might Try SDN and Cisco Outlines an SDN Plan.)

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:29:07 PM
re: Cisco's Chief Strategy Officer Quits

@NedHooper: 0 tweets; 29 following; 36 followers

@Padmasree: 10,095 tweets; 266 following; 1,406,876 followers

jggveth 12/5/2012 | 5:29:07 PM
re: Cisco's Chief Strategy Officer Quits

That twitter score is really frustrating for those of us still waiting to hear where Ned likes to eat brunch.

I didn't read the article but is Flip mentioned?

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:29:06 PM
re: Cisco's Chief Strategy Officer Quits

Flip wasn't mentioned by name, but we (and Cisco) did note Cisco's aquisition of the company that made them: Pure Digital Technologies. JB

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:29:04 PM
re: Cisco's Chief Strategy Officer Quits

This sounds like it's a case of Cisco streamlining -- basically Pankaj Patel is taking over all of engineering and Padmasree Warrior taking all of Strategy. That seems like a good fit for each of them, but it does leave Ned Hooper as the odd man out.

(I wasn't around yesterday, so I'm still catching up on this one...)

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