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Optical/IP

Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco

Surya Panditi, the executive behind many a bubble-era telecom startup, has joined a frequent competitor to his companies by taking a job at .

Panditi, the former CEO of Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7), Convergent Networks Inc., and Polaris Networks, is now general manager of Cisco's service provider voice business. Cisco broadcast news of his recent arrival via an internal email, according to one source outside the company.

Panditi reports to Don Proctor, the vice president and general manager of Cisco's voice technology group. Proctor reports to chief development officer Charles Giancarlo.

So, is Panditi abandoning the startup life for good? That's not the way he puts it.

"I had several opportunities, and I looked at both small and large companies. What excited me about Cisco was that it was an entrepreneurial company, even though it's a huge company," he says.

Panditi becomes part of the new-look Cisco, as the company is regaining equilibrium after losing several senior executives. Mario Mazzola has resigned as chief development officer, with Giancarlo promoted in his place. And three executives of storage networking spin-in Andiamo -- Luca Cafiero, Prem Jain, and Soni Jiandani -- have retired, triggering a chain of executive changes, particularly in the storage and security areas (see Cisco Buys Andiamo Finally, Cisco Elevates Giancarlo, and Cisco Names Data Chief).

Panditi has some voice networking experience from his one-year stint at Convergent, and his other CEO jobs included experience with Cisco competitors of different stripes. And he's certainly had some big-company experience, as he lists , U.S. Robotics Corp., and Ungermann-Bass on his resumé.

Here's the recent history: Panditi left the CEO post at core-router startup Avici in 2001, joining Convergent to start 2002. One year later, he left Convergent and took the help at Polaris, an optical networking startup.

Polaris all but closed earlier this year and was sold to its largest creditor, real estate developer Carl Berg. Around the same time, Panditi announced he would step down from Avici's board, severing his last formal tie with that company. (See Avici Shuffles Top Execs, Panditi Goes Soft, Polaris Picks Panditi as CEO, Avici Up, Panditi Out, and Landlord Takes Polaris.)

Former Polaris employees say Berg is rebuilding Polaris by pumping new funding into the company and rehiring former employees -- roughly 20 of them as of June. Berg hasn't returned calls requesting comment.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:06:39 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco Panditi can now help Cisco build a box that, like the famous Avici core router story, fell through the floor of a CO.

Luca and team followed Mario. STAY TUNED, WATCH SOME REAL TALENT BAIIL IN THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS. Not such a cutting edge place to work, but they pay real well, unless they buy you, because then they fire you.
How many Airespace sales guys will be there in another 5 weeks.?
Check on it Craig.
netorange 12/5/2012 | 3:06:39 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco Freetoair nailed it.
Cisco keeps feeding this soothing narcotic about still being entrepreneurial to their masses rather than acknowledge their grim internal reality.
Everyone will fly in formation or else. No wild ducks allowed. Give Panditi 6 to 9 months before he bolts.
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:06:39 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco "What excited me about Cisco was that it was an entrepreneurial company, even though it's a huge company," he says.

uh yeah, 8:30-4:30, dead wieght abounds manging upper is the order of the day. No new products developed in house since anyone can remember...
trzwuip 12/5/2012 | 3:06:38 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco SP voice a real tough cookie for Cisco. The company has never had a real service provider focus since the glory days got over. Most of their layoffs and cuts were in this BU. Lack of SP revenue in US resulted in scaling back SP technology. This was a big mistake while their competitors and the new age Asian rivals gained ground. China and India are now seeing multi-million ($100M up) deals in the SP arena. Panditi can only make a difference if he looks at market overseas and influences some major changes in the SP BU at Cisco.
Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:06:38 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco Panditi can now help Cisco build a box that, like the famous Avici core router story, fell through the floor of a CO.

Luca and team followed Mario. STAY TUNED, WATCH SOME REAL TALENT BAIIL IN THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS. Not such a cutting edge place to work, but they pay real well, unless they buy you, because then they fire you.
How many Airespace sales guys will be there in another 5 weeks.?
Check on it Craig.
dlakh 12/5/2012 | 3:06:35 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco Article is wrong as Surya Panditi is reporting to Mike Volpi in Cisco Directory.
lightreceding 12/5/2012 | 3:06:35 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco going to help Cisco succeed in SP Voice?
billy_fold 12/5/2012 | 3:06:34 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco Given the Convergent experience, I doubt he knows much about SP voice.


-Billy
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:06:34 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco Article is wrong as Surya Panditi is reporting to Mike Volpi in Cisco Directory.

Cisco PR looked him up for me, and as of yesterday, their resource listed him reporting to Proctor.

- Craig Matsumoto
[email protected]
brahmos 12/5/2012 | 3:06:32 AM
re: Former Avici CEO Joins Cisco > soothing narcotic.

people hear it internally, but except for the really young sheep, nobody believes a word of all the wisdom flowing down to the troops.
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