Procket Gets Cisco Exec

Procket confirmed today that Roland Acra, a former senior VP and chief technology officer of Cisco's service provider division, has joined the startup as its president and CEO.

Light Reading first reported of Acra's job change on Friday (see Has Procket Found a New CEO?).

Acra had been at Cisco since 1991. Prior to his CTO post, he held the title of VP and GM of Cisco's Public Carrier IP Group, where he was responsible for Cisco's 12000 series core routers.

Cisco downplayed the move and says it has no immediate plans to replace Acra.

“While we are disappointed to see Roland leave, we respect his decision to take the next step in his career by assuming the role of CEO at another company," says Mario Mazzola, Cisco's chief development officer, in a statement provided by Cisco. "We wish Roland well in his new endeavors." Cisco says Acra's former responsibilities will be spread out among other executives.

So what made Acra take the leap? Procket founder Tony Li worked with Acra more than a decade ago at Cisco and helped convince him to make the move, Acra says. Acra also had a stint at Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), as did Procket founder Bill Lynch, who is known for his work on Sun's UltraSPARC microprocessors. Procket board member Stuart Phillips, a general partner at U.S. Venture Partners, once worked with Acra and Li while he was a VP at Cisco in charge of developing Cisco's IOS routing software.

In an interview with Light Reading today, Acra said he took the Procket job for three reasons: He thinks they have a superior technical team; the company has viable, shipping products; and he thinks they're going to sell a lot of systems in the next 12 to 18 months.

So what's so hot about Procket? Acra says the startup's got the gear for today's carrier networks, which are beginning to require more reliable and modular IP equipment; they need gear that can keep moving traffic at very high speeds with new features -- high quality of service upgrades, more pervasive multicasting features, more IPv6 capabilities. In short, capacity increases will demand a modular and efficient upgrade approach.

Acra's also excited about the IP router market in general. He notes that while a lot of Tier 1 and Tier 2 network carriers deferred their spending on IP routers, the traffic in those networks has continued to more or less double on a yearly basis.

Lots of folks have been looking for Procket to announce some bigger customer wins before they'll be convinced the company's on the right track. Procket's customer references to date -- three large Japanese service providers and ISPs and at least three large universities -- give it some credibility (see Procket Wins at University College and Procket Wins Grid Computing Contract), but many will remain skeptical until it announces a marquee incumbent in North America.

Finding big deals leaps to mind as the most pressing part of Acra's new job. It's clear the company needs to quickly put together some biggger partnerships that include deep-pocketed incumbents. The company had been rumored to be in partnership talks with Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) at various points (see Will Nortel Pick Procket? ), but it's never landed the big deal.

Another mystery about Procket is funding. It hasn't announced any new funding since 2002. Acra's hire might signal that Procket is close to a new funding round.

Acra also confirmed that Cisco still holds a small stake in Procket, left over from when Procket was a chip company and not so evidently a direct Cisco competitor in the routing space.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
coreghost 12/5/2012 | 2:45:49 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec
Supposedly they have already closed on some sort
of new round of funding. Its no unexpected that
they did not announce it because I dont remember
them ever making an annoucement on money.

I'm also curious about who those three japanese
service providers are. As far as I know,
procket has reseller agreements with a couple
japanese companies, but those are not real

I dont know that Roland is what they needed.
His customer contacts are in accounts which are
joined at the hip to cisco. He is also going
to have to re-build an utterly demoralized
sales organization and somehow get everyone
working on the same page.

As far as what they are saying, their strong
points are not modularity or reliability. And
they have to, if nothing else, stop fooling
themselves that they are.

Roland needs to figure out what the value of
what procket has produced is to customers. And
at the same time, he has to manage some
very large egos.
5urf5hop 12/5/2012 | 2:45:48 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec Boy, you sure sound like a disgruntled and bitter "coreghost". You must have alot to lose by this announcement...

Regarding "joined at the hip to cisco". For the short term, it's only due to fear and intimidation. Not inspiration and innovation.

2004 will certainly be an interesting year.
signmeup 12/5/2012 | 2:45:44 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec Regardless of what the CSCO and JNPR trolls say, this can only be viewed as very positive for Procket. Roland Acra may not have been the most visible person at Cisco, but he have a lot of direct contact with the carrier IP space. He had been at Cisco since '91, and made it quite a ways up the corporate ladder. I know several people at Cisco that say he will be a very good CEO based on his ethics and attitude.

Secondly, if you listen to the rumor mill in the valley, it's been whispering for a while that Procket has indeed closed another round of funding. Funny there hasn't been an announcement as of yet, but maybe they were waiting to get Roland on board first. I don't believe Mr. Acra would have jumped ship unless there was substantial cash in the bank, so the rumors are probably true.

If you take a look at the list of CEO candidates out there, I would imagine that Roland Acra would be at the top of most lists.
capolite 12/5/2012 | 2:45:41 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec Your post nails it. Roland was one of the best guys inside SP at Cisco. He's worked with the right players at the carriers. This is a gain for Procket and hurts Cisco. Roland built a strong bench at Cisco but they will be under increasing political pressure from Carlos the buffoon.
change_is_good 12/5/2012 | 2:45:41 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec i might not be a big fan of procket, but if i were acra, i would make the move.

there is a lot of upside with marginal risk.

since avci has not had any traction, there might be a few opportunities down the road even though it is a two-horse race right now.

no, it's not 0 to 30% core market share like jnpr did in 99-00, but someone can buy them and investors can make some dough or they can weather the storm and offer.

there's nothing like taking a chance to hit a homerun.
light-headed 12/5/2012 | 2:45:38 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec strictly a resume move, roland is now a ceo level guy which he was not before. any success they have is just gravy. the new round is not enough to carry them anywhere. they are still in trouble.
signmeup 12/5/2012 | 2:45:35 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec light-headed wrote:
"strictly a resume move, roland is now a ceo level guy which he was not before. any success they have is just gravy. the new round is not enough to carry them anywhere. they are still in trouble."

light-headed, you should really leave the heavy thinking to others... That is one of the most ridiculous statements I have heard in a long time. Why would a successful senior exec at Cisco make the move to a startup if they thought it would fail?? The last thing he wants on his resume is the fact he was the ceo of a startup that failed under his tenure. If that were the case, he would be much better off just staying at Cisco and collecting those options.

Regardless of whether or not the "next" round will keep Procket in the game, you have to believe that Roland Acra personally believes that Procket can and will be successful. It is the only logical conclusion.

One other point - Procket has historically been very tight-lipped about providing much information on their activities. I seriously doubt if they suddenly change this approach. I would imagine there is a lot more going on than we know about, even as good as LR's staff is ;)
clockme 12/5/2012 | 2:45:34 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec Acra has climbed the ladder for years at Cisco and sees no career progression there. He must be disappointed with the way the HFR turned out and with the recent announcement of the same old mediocre 128xx Cisco product. And, for some reason there is also some perceived glamour to selling into the core of SP networks. Presented with the opportunity to start as a CEO with a fresh product in this space, it is understandable that he made the move.

However, he has no idea what it is like competing in the market as a late and over-hyped player with little chance to succeed financially. The only service providers that would even consider Procket are those that have no business sense or management oversight of spending. This cannot be changed just because someone that used to be backed by an installed base and many billions in the bank is now running the show. Good luck buying business at Procket.
zipple 12/5/2012 | 2:45:33 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec "strictly a resume move, roland is now a ceo level guy which he was not before. any success they have is just gravy."

I couldn't disagree more.

About the worst thing he could put on his resume is that he took the CEO slot of Procket, which created cutting-edge product because of the technical team (not the CEO), and he then failed to lead it to commercial success.

There are enough first-rate investors in Procket that the failure would ensure that he never sees another decent gig in the valley.

Good luck, Roland.
reoptic 12/5/2012 | 2:45:26 AM
re: Procket Gets Cisco Exec Good to see technical guy vs. a sales guy get a job like this, although didn't they already have a technical guy with Tony? These guys have some traction with a few carriers but it is still quite a long haul for them to get enough wins and deployments to be serious. Their market share is zero, after all. Still a ways to go with the product and the question is do investors have enough patience for this? Rumour is the old investors are mostly not coming back...but may get some new second or third tier vcs engaged.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Sign In