Volpi Takes the Helm at Joost

In a highly anticipated move, former Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) executive Mike Volpi has been named CEO of online video startup Joost . (See Volpi Named Joost CEO.)

Joost finally confirmed the appointment today, after rumors circulated last week that Volpi was the pick to run the high-flying startup. Volpi will take the place of Fredrik de Wahl, who will remain as the company's chief strategy officer. (See Is Mike Volpi Going to Get Joost? and Spruced Roost.)

While this will be his first shot as chief executive, Volpi held key roles in a 13-year tenure at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), overseeing more than 70 acquisitions. He was in charge of Cisco's service provider group when he left the company in February. (See Volpi Out at Cisco and Volpi Sizes Up Life After Cisco.)

ABI Research analyst Mike Wolf says "it was just a matter of time" before Volpi got a chief executive position. "From a Joost perspective this makes sense; he is a CEO-caliber guy."

Volpi comes on board as Joost makes the transition from a beta platform to a full-scale, commercially available video service.

In the past six months, Joost has gained a great deal of traction, naming a series of advertisers and signing content providers. The company also raised $45 million in a Series A funding round. (See Joost Pockets $45M, Joost Gets $45M, Joost Launches Commercially, Joost Names Partners, Joost Signs Agreements, CBS Gets Joost, and Joost Signs With Viacom.)

"The big question for Joost right now is, can they scale this up?" says Gerry Kaufhold, an analyst with In-Stat .

While there has been some question as to whether Volpi will be able to handle the content side of the business (he is a router guy, after all), analysts didn't think that would be an issue.

"Joost already has its story on content syndication," Wolf says. "They've already established themselves" with content partners like CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) and Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA).

Kaufhold believes Volpi's experience at Cisco could be useful as Joost builds itself up to meet the explosive demand it has been promising to advertisers and content providers.

Kaufhold also thinks Volpi might have been recruited not just for his experience in networking, but for his networking experience. Noting that Cisco works with a number of the same service providers that Joost's services will be running over, Kaufhold says Volpi's "Rolodex alone is extremely valuable to Joost. It's a beautiful match of what he knows and who he knows."

Despite numerous attempts to contact him, Volpi could not be reached for comment -- even though he knows we'll just make fun of him for it.

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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