Cisco's Russo Resigns

Carl Russo, once the head of Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) optical networking group and long-time occupant of Light Reading's Movers and Shakers list, has resigned from Cisco to pursue personal and outside interests, the company said Friday.

"Carl has been instrumental in Cisco's optical strategy and building the foundation for our continued momentum in this space," says a Cisco spokesperson. "We appreciate his contributions and wish him well as he pursues his personal interests."

Russo says he intends to spend more time with his family and with the three startup companies in which he's invested -- and he'll also be driving in the Toyota Atlantic CART racing series. He says he will not be taking an operating role in any of the startups he works with nor with any other telecom equipment company.

"This is a good time to move on," Russo says.

Russo has spots on the boards of -- and personal investments in -- three privately held communications startups: Calix Networks; MobileSys Inc., a wireless infrastructure services provider; and Kuokoa Networks Inc., a stealthy storage startup located near Cisco on Tasman Drive in San Jose, Calif.

"[Cisco] is a phenomenal place," Russo says. "I think what people are going to find is that the team here is very strong, and over the ensuing weeks it will get stronger still."

"He's a talented guy and they'll miss him," says John Adler, a partner at InterWest Partners and a former co-worker. "He really has a talent for keeping people motivated and I learned a lot from him."

Russo came to Cisco in 1999 when the company acquired Cerent Corp., where he had been CEO, for some $6.9 billion in stock. Once at Cisco, the company's optical transport business grew at a breakneck pace, as more than 600 customers deployed some 30,000 of its ONS15454 next-generation Sonet add/drop multiplexer systems worldwide, according to the company. Though Cisco had a few fits and starts during its optical group's evolution -- such as the decision to discontinue its core optical switch -- Russo (a.k.a. "Mr. Frosty") was always there to candidly explain where the company was headed and to trade barbs with the press (see Cisco Caught Cloning and Carl Russo: Cisco Avoiding the Core).

After the telecom economy spiraled into recession, Cisco reorganized and put Jayshree Ullal in the optical driver's seat while Russo took on more of a strategic and advisory role (see Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future and Reorg Rips Through Cisco's Ranks).

Russo's departure comes only a few days after another top telecom equipment executive, Ron Martin, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (FNC), stepped down (see Ron Martin, Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. and FNC COO Resigns). Martin's duties were absorbed by Akira Tokimasa, FNC's president.

Now that Russo has resigned, several heads in the industry speculate that Cisco has tapped Martin to run its optical division, perhaps using his extensive RBOC contacts to help Cisco win some incumbent carrier customers.

Cisco says it won't comment on the rumor.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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Regular Joe 12/4/2012 | 10:25:40 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns Is it true?

Could the telecom visionary Jayshree Ullal already be out of a job?

Didn't we just have a lengthy debate on this very board extolling or condemning her like two months ago?

What does Light Reading Really know...

...maybe only The Shadow can tell us!
jamesbond 12/4/2012 | 10:25:39 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns Are there 600 carriers in the world?
pigglywiggly 12/4/2012 | 10:25:39 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns The 454 has lots of enterprise customers, so it goes beyond just carriers. 600 does sound high in any respect, still.
fhe 12/4/2012 | 10:25:39 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns I have the same question, too. 600 customers, 30000 units, that sounds a lot! Each customer bought 50 of those???
maryhadalambda 12/4/2012 | 10:25:39 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns "Cisco will be the no 1 or no 2 optical company by 2001," Carl Russo
no_light 12/4/2012 | 10:25:37 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns >But for $6.9B they could have bought 175,000
>454s from Fiberlane. CISCO really knows how to
>recognize a bargain.

Well, has Juniper ever sold $3billion
(JNPR mrket cap) worth of routers ?
Or MSFT sold $600billion worth of software when
it was at its peak ?

Should divid that number by the PE ratio,
175,000 / 100 = 1750,
photonsu 12/4/2012 | 10:25:37 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns But for $6.9B they could have bought 175,000 454s from Fiberlane. CISCO really knows how to recognize a bargain.
raid 12/4/2012 | 10:25:36 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns Also, remember that Cisco did not pay cash. Paid in "Inflated" Cisco stock during the internet bubble.

And the for this product & captured_market will continue to generate cash for many years.

sounds like a smart deal.

sauron5 12/4/2012 | 10:25:36 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns Cisco's own 3rd Quarter Earnings anouncements
state that revenues from Optical are down
more than 10%. They don't have a large market
share to begin with.
rbkoontz 12/4/2012 | 10:25:35 PM
re: Cisco's Russo Resigns Of course there are 600 carriers in the world.

I would guess there are around 2000-3000 local exchange carriers alone in the world - this does not include the long haul interexchange carriers around the globe.

Cerent built their LEC business on the IOCs in the US before Cisco bought them - there are 1200 of these rural carriers in the US. It is an ingnored and underserved market by most vendors because of channel challenges. Telcos don't make purchase decisions on product coming through traditional enterprise distribution channels.

"Hello, welcome to Graybar. Can I take your order please?"

"Uh, yeah, I'd like 25 Cerent 454's"

"Sure. Would like you like french fries with that?"

"No thanks. Long haul optics please."

"Please pull forward to the window"...
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