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
|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