- Guess who's back? Back again?
Russo's back! Tell a friend.
Carl Russo, the former don of Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) optical networking business, has returned to the telecom industry with his usual flair, say well-connected sources in Santa Rosa, California's Telecom Valley. Though he swore off operating roles once upon a time, Calix Networks chairman Russo has returned to become the equipment maker's president and CEO, sources say.
Mike Hatfield, Calix's first CEO, isn't going anywhere. He's taken the title of chief strategy officer and will continue to drive Calix's product strategy, a source says. At least from the onset, this doesn’t look to be a repeat of what happened at Cerent Corp., where Hatfield grew a fledgling business, handed it off to Russo, and then moved on.
Russo retired from Cisco in May 2002. He'd been at Cisco since late 1999, when the networking giant bought Cerent Corp. in a deal worth nearly $6.9 billion in stock. Russo's reasons for retiring in May included spending more time with his family and taking time to drive in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship series.
There's no word on how Russo made out with the family, but behind the wheel he didn't do as well as he had in the mid 80s, when he was driving a Formula Ford in the Skip Barber Racing Series. Russo drove 20 races in the Toyota Atlantic series with 11th place being his best finish, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News. In prize winnings, he placed 22nd in a field of 38. Driver Aaron Justus finished the season for Russo's team, and next season Justus will do the driving, with Russo listed as the team's owner.
Sources won't speculate on the reasons behind Russo's return. However, his recent racing experience and his past executive roles offer two hints: First, he knows how to build and run a business; and second, as he gets older, he knows when to step aside for the sake of giving his team a better chance to win.
Calix declined to comment for this article.
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading