Volpi has spent most of his time as the point man for the company's ravenous mergers and acquisitions activity. A year and a half ago, however, he was moved into a role where he could be directly involved in product development. He currently heads the company's Routing Technology Group, along side Prem Jain, who was promoted in May following Cisco's umpteenth executive reorganization.
His current role at Cisco is pivotal. Not only does his group include Cisco's bread and butter – its core, midrange, and access routers – but he's also charged with helping to shape two potentially huge growth areas: mobile wireless and cable products.
Indeed, Volpi's current role will certainly test his mettle. At a time when carrier spending is still falling, Cisco sees large carriers as a key growth market for its routers and switches and is working like crazy to cozy up to them while telecom equipment stalwarts such as Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) bandage their head wounds.
So, when Cisco hosted Light Reading at its headquarters recently, we relished the chance to pick Mr. Volpi's big brain on a variety of subjects.
Armed with notebooks, breakfast pastries, and coffee strong enough to remove driveway stains, Light Reading's editors assembled in a conference room in Building 22 (which looks exactly like Buildings 1 through 21) of Cisco's sprawling campus in San Jose, Calif.
Interestingly, Volpi's job title isn't the only thing that's changed. For one thing, he's grown a goatee. Also, he's dropped about 40 pounds since the last time we saw him speak at an investment conference a year and a half ago. [Ed.note: We're not sure where the lost weight went. Perhaps it got sick of the tech business and set off to run an off-track betting parlor in San Mateo.]
[Gratuitous aside: We also found out that Volpi is a big fan of the Beautiful Game (that's "soccer" to the Yanks in the crowd). An AC Milan, fan, specifically, who went so far as to travel to Japan for last year's soccer World Cup, Volpi plays with a five-a-side team in San Jose. This obviously scored big points off the bat (or the boot) with the Light Reading eds, who have their own soccer team, the Light Reading Cosmos – a team whose ugliness is surpassed only by its general ineptitude on the field. Naturally, we have challenged Cisco to a game, and are waiting to see if the gauntlet is picked up. End of gratitous aside.]
A lean, mean, football playing machine, then. Without further delay, we proudly present our chat with Mike Volpi. Read on for his views on: