Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco

PLANO, Texas -- Ron Martin, former COO of Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (FNC), has been hired by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) to help revive its optical networking business, Light Reading has learned.

Martin, who resigned from FNC last week, could not be reached for comment (see FNC COO Resigns). "He left on his own accord to pursue other opportunities," says John Stewart, a spokesman for FNC. "The move was totally voluntary."

Sources here say that Cisco went after Martin, who has extensive contacts with RBOCs, with the intent of having him expand the position vacated by Carl Russo last week (see Cisco's Russo Resigns). During Martin's tenure with FNC, he helped the company secure a market leadership position in the Sonet transport equipment space.

Cisco has needed someone of Martin's stature since its service provider business unit melted down in late 2000 and early 2001. That led to the departure of its top telecom equipment executives, Don Listwin and Kevin Kennedy, who are now with Openwave Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: OPWV). Another pocket of former Cisco service provider executives fled to Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) in 2001. (See Listwin Leaves Cisco, Kennedy Lands at Openwave, DeNuccio Joins Redback, and Listwin Joins Redback Board.)

Jayshree Ullal, who now leads Cisco's optical networking group, is seen by industry observers as an executive who specializes in attacking new markets (see Cisco's Ullal Talks Optical Future). However, Ullal lacks the decades-long personal relationships that Martin has in the carrier universe.

Even John Chambers, Cisco's CEO, has noted when talking to analysts that Cisco is particularly weak when talking to service provider operations executives. Chambers himself is a charmer to CEOs and world leaders, but sources say Cisco needs some bench-strength when it comes to wooing operations folks -- the people who really decide what goes in and what stays out of a carrier network.

During Cisco's last earnings conference call, Chambers himself noted that one of Cisco's concerns was its "major decrease in optical business during this quarter." (See Cisco Tops Expectations.)

"I think [Chambers] is trying to beef up the executive staff, particularly on the carrier side," says Sam Wilson, an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. "However, given some of the past hires, I think he's being slow and methodical." What remains to be seen is how much difference Martin can make when trying to get Cisco into key RBOC accounts. It's also worth noting that Martin may not be the only executive Cisco brings in to shore up its service provider business, according to a venture capital source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"Cisco has little penetration to show in the RBOCs," says Kris Shankar, VP of marketing and business development for Metro-Optix Inc. "In Ron Martin they are looking for the secret sauce that built Fujitsu into the Sonet powerhouse of the 1990s.

"Short term, [the new hire] appears to be a shift in Cisco's favor. Long term, it is questionable if executive relationships can transcend the perennial resistance from carrier operations."

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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wilecoyote 12/4/2012 | 10:23:43 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco RBOCs aren't taking SONET out of their networks any time soon. Looks like Cisco finally figured that out. Now it will be about products. If I see one more 75xx re-packaged for a service provider, I will lose it.

Cisco needs new products and their engineers are asleep at the switch, no pun intended, and have no budgets to work with. And there aren't enough really compelling startups around for them to totally re-build their portfolio.

Anyone have any comments on how this hire will translate into compelling solutions for Cisco to sell to this key customer community?

optical 12/4/2012 | 10:23:43 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco No doubt that close RBOC contacts are required but at the end of the day you have to have a product that brings significant value to the RBOC for them to make a change. Ron Martin's contacts will get Cisco in the door so to speak, but at the end of the day you have to have the products. I am a fan of what Cisco has done, but honesty the 15454 or any of their other optical products can't carry the day at an RBOC. This is not a short term problem for Cisco. Interested in what others have to say?
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 10:23:42 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco Interested in what others have to say?

Technology innovators must sell into markets with exponentially growing revenues. A visit to a TV affilliate or CO reveals the position on the food chain that technology takes in those markets. These markets are not conducive to fast innovation.

The RBOCs do not, and are not likely, to serve such a market with exponentially growing revenues.

An innovator has a better chance of selling farm machinary in hopes of getting some of that $180B subsidy GW just signed, passed in the name of protecting Republican Senate seats. The irony is that Administration officials complain that a paltry Erate program is too expensive.


We can and must do better for the US to remain a world leader.
optblues 12/4/2012 | 10:23:42 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco Perhaps there is one other thing that Matin can bring to the table. Maybe Martin can finally tell Cisco how to design a product for the RBOCS. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like Cisco is trying to force fit a product into the RBOCs. I think Martin could lead Cisco, or hire others who know how to design a product to work in the RBOC system.
Pearl 12/4/2012 | 10:23:41 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco Ron Martin knows nothing about how to design a product that is carrier-class. The Japanese engineers and a few key Americans made their FLM products what they are today. And speaking of what they are today, they're OLD. Since Ron Martin has been in charge, he has failed to bring one successful new, next-generation product to market. Further, his relationships are those fed to him by others within Fujitsu over the years and he has actually very, very few that are strong personal relationships. But he is a great politico and I'm sure will be right at home at Cisco and will fit right in to the "big company, private jet" crowd. Better yet for those of us who compete with Cisco, by the time he's finished bringing his incompetant cronies with him from Fujitsu, Cisco will be completely screwed in the carrier space... wait 3 years and see for yourself. Fujitsu may actually have a chance to repair and succeed with Martin gone... if the Japanese will let go to someone who can actually run the subsidiary (and of course, get rid of Martin's cronies).
sjd5 12/4/2012 | 10:23:40 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco I'd like to see this guys paycheck. Must be huge. Another step towards Cisco kissing those high margins goodbye.
TelcoDude 12/4/2012 | 10:23:34 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco Maybe FNC shoudl hire Carl Russo and kick Cisco ass.
Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 10:23:33 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco On the "big company, private jet" comment, I was talking to a Cisco person the other day who was making a big thing out of the company's "frugality".

He was saying that everybody in Cisco, regardless of seniority, flies economy/coach, even on long haul flights. John Chambers himself has been known to travel coach.

Can this really be true? I find it very hard to believe.
Kangaroo 12/4/2012 | 10:23:33 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco
If Cisco wants to be a major player in the optical space it needs to buy a Major player. I know Chambers has publicly stated that they will not buy publicly listed companies, but have a look at Cisco's track record.

Cisco entered the WAN switching(Frame Relay) market through the acquisition of Stratacom, in doing so they bought both technology and a Carrier customer base.

It would seems to me that Cisco needs to follow this same methodology if it wants to be a serious player in the Optical Carrier market.

Maybe Cisco are assembling a Management team to manage just such an acquisition.

Likely candidate are Nortel, Marconi, Lucent, long shots would be Ciena/ONI, Sycamore.
belas_knap 12/4/2012 | 10:23:32 PM
re: Fujitsu's Martin Joins Cisco Generally this is true - as long as they don't own their personal private jets & use them. I'm sure that there are a few free tickets flying about from the travel companies but the policy when I was there was that everybody booked & flew economy & upgraded at their own expense.
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