Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again)

Router guru Tony Li has returned to the roost at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), it seems.

A call late Thursday showed there are, again, two Tony Lis in the Cisco directory. (Yes, there's a Cisco employee who happens to share a name with the Tony Li, and no doubt suffers all kinds of misdirected calls as a result.)

Now Cisco has confirmed Li has rejoined the company, and is working in the company's Data Center Business Unit as a Cisco Fellow (Distinguished Scientist).

A voicemail to the "correct" Tony Li has gone unreturned so far, as has an email to his personal account.

For the uninitiated, Li is considered one of the top IP routing experts in the world, making him a bit of a celebrity in tech circles. He's had a colorful career that's intersected with key times at Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR). (See Tony Li.)

Table 1: Tony Li Timeline
When Where/What
January 1991 Joins Cisco, helps develop the GRS 12000. Reportedly storms out, nailing his resignation letter to a door.
1996 Joins Juniper, works on the flagship M40 router
1999 Joins Procket, leaving Juniper just before its IPO
March 2004 Quits Procket, dabbles in consulting
December 2004 Rejoins Cisco
September 2005 Leaves Cisco for Portola Networks, rejoining former Procket exec Vito Palermo
April 2006 Departs Portola to join Tropos Networks
2007 Third stint at Cisco
Source: Light Reading

Considering Li keeps coming back to Cisco, it's tempting to draw parallels to former baseball manager Billy Martin. Except Martin was repeatedly fired by the New York Yankees, whereas Li seems to shift in and out of projects at his own behest. And, as far as we know, Li hasn't kicked dirt on anyone.

It's still unclear what prompted this latest homecoming. Li, who seems to relish the startup life, had ended his most recent Cisco tour in 2005, first joining Portola Networks, then Tropos Networks Inc. (See Tony Li Leaves Cisco Again and Li Takes Tropos Route.)

News of Li's return to Cisco comes as another of its well known faces, Mike Volpi, settles into life outside the vendor. (See Volpi Sizes Up Life After Cisco and Volpi Out at Cisco.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:14:20 PM
re: Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again) He's gone, he's back, he's gone, he's back, he's gone. he's back. Wow, this is confusing, odd and bizarre behavior, Oh, not really, its just Tony Li.

Give you 8 to 5 he is out of there and in a start up in 1 year. Also will bet the over on 16 months that he is back.
Badda bing
[email protected] 12/5/2012 | 3:14:19 PM
re: Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again) Did you mean GSR (Gigabit Switch Router) in the table?
Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:14:18 PM
re: Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again) Li's old Procket boss Randall Kreup is rumored to have split from Stoke. Another name touted, his as a killer sales guy turned CEO. 0 for 2 as CEO, maybe he will go back to CSCO and join his former science lab sand box play pal, or perhaps he will get a new gig so he can catch up with Tony and the GPS idea becomes a board game.
lonestranger 12/5/2012 | 3:14:18 PM
re: Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again) What's funny is, who cares?

This valley is so tied up in people who have "names" - who cares - guy does well on GSR product, throws fits and jumps around at nothing spectacular for the last several years and someone says "#1 guru"?

Too bad Anna Nichole died - it wouldn't be long before she got a job somewhere in the industry and boy would that make news!
euler 12/5/2012 | 3:14:18 PM
re: Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again) Is the other Tony Li known as Tony K. Li ?
light-headed 12/5/2012 | 3:14:18 PM
re: Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again) has anyone considered putting GPS on Tony and creating a website so we can more easily track his employment?

We could even do a children's project called "where's Tony?"...


DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:14:18 PM
re: Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again) ha!
mu-law 12/5/2012 | 3:14:17 PM
re: Tony Li Rejoins Cisco (Again) I would argue that BGP work on the 7000 was more impactful than the BFR... conspicuously absent from the table.

12000 was a significant one for cisco, but it was neither their innovation, nor something they seemed to want to do...
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