Customer Experience Management (CEM)

Meraki Co-Founders Say Sayonara to Cisco

Meraki's co-founders have quit Cisco, a departure coming to light an embarrassing few weeks after the networking giant bragged about how Meraki is such a big deal.

Sanjit Biswas, John Bicket and Hans Robertson have all updated their LinkedIn profiles to show that they are no longer employed at Cisco.

Biswas's LinkedIn profile says he's "taking a break," and describes Meraki as having had a $120 million run rate before being acquired by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) for $1.2 billion. Bicket's profile says he's "taking some time off" and says Meraki grew from $120 million per year to $500 million per year after the acquisition. Robertson's profile also shows him as "taking a little time off."

Cisco confirmed the departure. A spokeswoman said in an email that Cisco Senior Vice President Rob Soderbery will continue leading the enterprise segment, of which Meraki is a part. Todd Nightingale is VP and general manager of the cloud managed networking group, which incorporates Meraki; Martingale reports to Soderbery.

CRN quotes an anonymous Cisco partner, who says the high acquisition price tag for Meraki indicates Cisco was "buying the talent and to have these guys leave so quickly, for me, it's somewhat surprising."

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The departure, or at least its timing, is embarrassing for Cisco, given that the company made a huge deal out of Meraki at a major announcement late last month. It acquired Meraki, primarily known for cloud-based management of wireless networks, in January 2013 and said last month that it's expanding its Meraki cloud services for enterprise and network management. (See Cisco Gives Its Software Licensing a Makeover and Cisco Shells Out $1.2B for Meraki.)

Recently, Cisco has bragged about 86% year-over-year growth in its Meraki business in its last earnings call, and a 400% increase in the two years since Cisco acquired the company. (See Cisco Busts Slump Despite Carrier Slowdown.)

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

Mitch Wagner 2/10/2015 | 11:09:54 AM
Re: Good for the industry Yeah, Cisco is a big, established company and the Meraki guys are used to a startup culture. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn the Meraki guys left as soon as they were contractually able to. 
shashidhara 2/9/2015 | 9:51:18 PM
Good for the industry Agreed it is a loss for Cisco; but cisco is already used to such exits and it is expected. But the other side looks rosy to me as these guys would come up with some thing new keeping up the trend. Meraki's cloud solution has been a Game changer in the IT management and definitely will go long way for Cisco when it expands the same to other product lines.
danielcawrey 2/7/2015 | 5:20:06 PM
Re: Different direction? Cloud-based management of wireless networks sounds interesting. Too bad that Cisco probably expect to keep this talent around. It almost sounds like all of them are thinking about doing something totally new based on having the same LinkedIn statuses, but that's just speculation on my part. 
Umesh Jamwal 2/7/2015 | 1:34:22 AM
Pain to hear this..... Similar stories post first ever .com burst....Year Y2K onwards....lot many M&A synergies have been created,some met with success,yet most have become history...

1. Newbridge acquired by Alcatel.....Product is a history now..

2.ARM Harris....once market leader of Antenna and Transmission,Microwave products...again in the dumps somewhere...

3. Starent was a good acquisition by Cisco....Most of the founders and key R&D guys are gone....

4.The point to ponder is....when you do not have in-house expertise,why shop just to have inorganic growth to meet your annual goals and then dumping the product (killing the competition)

5.Cisco DNA is Wireline Broadband,Core routers,switches(OEM products from taiwan,China)etc.

6.They have tried yet failed to become either a true Telco or IT player....Just by acquiring a good carrier grade wireless technology start-up cannot take you overnite to become E///,NSN,Huawei or ALU of this world.One need to stay invested in the acquired companies just like Ti-Metra+ALU and Nuage have done it.....creating a niche yet fastest growing SDN/NFV opensource marketplace for both communication service providers as well as growing vendor ecosystem....Cisco is miles behind in this learning curve....
Mitch Wagner 2/6/2015 | 5:19:23 PM
Re: Different direction? Yes, Meraki was originally focused on WiFi and now Cisco is looking to turn it into a more broad direction, as a complete IT management tool. 

This is an old story: Founders sell to big company, then leave after a little while. It happens. Sometimes the acquisition turns out successful, sometimes not. Same is true if the founders stay. 
DOShea 2/6/2015 | 5:09:44 PM
Re: Different direction? Yeah, the partner reaction -- two years being like some kind of overnight loss -- seems strange...

Between "taking a break," "taking some time off," and "taking a little time off" I wonder who will be back at owrk first, and where...
cnwedit 2/6/2015 | 5:03:15 PM
Re: Different direction? This looks very much like these guys worked their mandated one year after the acquisitoin and then took off. That is either a comment on how Cisco is integrating their cloud management or on their own personal aspirations/interests in working at a big company or both. 

That said, if anyone paid $1.2 billion for a company I'd created, I think my motivation to keep working would be seriously diminished. So why not "take some time" and decide what's next. 
DOShea 2/6/2015 | 4:43:24 PM
Different direction? Seems like Cisco is intent to take the Meraki stuff in a different direction, or to different types of customers than the original team had focused on before the getting, which could help explain why they left, or why Cisco wanted them to leave, if that was the case. Though, I agree, the timing is embarrassing.

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