Cisco's Next Heir

5:15 PM -- There don't seem to be any rumors about who the next heir apparent at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is, now that Charles Giancarlo bailed. (See Giancarlo Quits Cisco, Paddles to Silver Lake.)

Possible reasons?

  • Too many potential candidates. Mario Mazzola, Jayshree Ullal, Randy Pond -- Cisco's bench is stacked.

  • Arguably, Giancarlo wasn't the CEO-in-waiting. He got anointed so by the media, ourselves included, but Cisco never overtly named him such.

  • The selection is going to be a years-long process. CEO John Chambers has become the public persona of Cisco, and that role is not easily replaceable.

  • Nobody's at work today.

  • Chambers admits multiple people will be groomed for possible advancement, and that brings up something analyst Bill Choi at Jefferies & Company Inc. pointed out. It's not a rumor, just an observation.

    Look at the seven-person development council formed this month. There's a new slot for consumer products, an area where Cisco hasn't fully defined its goals. It's being run by Ned Hooper. He's been handling M&A and was profiled in Business Week in April.

    Reportedly, Chambers is saying Hooper is one of those being singled out for grooming -- in the executive sense, not the Head & Shoulders sense.

    Maybe Hooper's is a name to watch.

    — Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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