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Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?

11:25 AM -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) started handing out layoffs this week -- they're probably done by now, in fact -- and I can't help thinking that the list will include at least one more executive we've heard of.

With cuts pledged to sweep the company and cover 15 percent of the top ranks, it seems likely that one or more big names tied to telecom or the cloud will be leaving. (See Cisco Simplifies; Cuts 6,500 Jobs and Did Cisco Cut Deep Enough?)

One has already bowed out, and that's Enrique Rodriguez, who had been running Videoscape. It was a high-profile assignment that was the centerpiece of Cisco's CES presence in January, and now it's in the hands of Marthin de Beer, who runs Cisco's Emerging Business group. (See Cisco's Videoscape Leader Resigns.)

But I have a feeling someone else might go. I wouldn't be surprised if it was Ned Hooper, the chief strategy officer.

It's hard not to notice that the two things Hooper has recently been in charge of -- consumer products and strategy -- are two of the most highly criticized aspects of Cisco in the months leading up to the restructuring. Some analysts put it less kindly, especially the consumer part.

As far as we know, Hooper still has a role on the consumer side, but it seems to be a diminished one. With the exit of Jonathan Kaplan -- former CEO of Pure Digital (the Flip company) and Cisco's former senior vice president of consumer products -- Hooper has been sharing chairmanship of Cisco's consumer council with de Beer.

For a while, it looked as if Hooper was being groomed for big things at Cisco, and that might still be true. But it's de Beer who's taken the spotlight more often recently. At the very least, the guy who we once thought was being groomed as a possible CEO successor might be getting pushed to the margins. (See Hooper's Ascent Continues at Cisco.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:57:03 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?

Ha!  Ok, fair enough; I should have mentioned there's a lot of chatter from people wanting Chambers to go.

I think it's pretty clear, though, that he's staying.  I actually don't mind that.  The adjacencies, in particular, come under a lot of criticism, but I think he was on the right track. Cisco needs to find its next-generation identity, something that comes after routers. So, while the money was flush, they went searching. To me, it makes sense.

"Corrupt loyalists" might be a bit harsh but you might be on the right track in general when it comes to the executive staff.  I talked with one person recently who noted that the execs who left (Giancarlo, Ullal, Volpi) were among those with the strongest opinions and personalities -- people who had no problem challenging Chambers.  Many of the remaining execs "grew up" under Chambers and might be more easily accepting of all his ideas.

It's just a theory.  Fwiw, I don't think Chambers prefers it that way; he strikes me as someone who gets a lot out of a good debate.

sam masud 12/5/2012 | 4:57:03 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?

Machiavellian is the right word to describe the Cisco culture.


So many years at the helm, and no clear successor to Chambers. Wow. Uncertainty does not benefit Cisco's customers, and I doubt if it's done any good for its employees--from senior management on down.

CapitalC 12/5/2012 | 4:57:03 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?

I was hoping you would say John Chambers.

After all, what is a chief executive supposed to do? Define the corporate strategy, sustain a strong executive team, nurture a productive corporate culture, and represent the company to the outside world. These are not responsibilities to be delegated to VPs or consultants.

Pursuing dozens of hopeless adjacencies unrelated to the core business while crippling long-standing sources of competitive advantage is the opposite of strategy. What remains of the executive team is a bench of corrupt loyalists. The culture has become Machiavellian and hostile to productive talent. Customers and investors are pissed off. And somehow, the friendly uncle has the audacity to blame it all on a "failure to execute". Engineers and management take the fall for the failures at the top.

Hiring McKinsey to come up with bold and stupid strategies, rewarding inept managers because they are old friends, and pumping the stock with tens of millions of dollars in advertising isn't the answer. How much longer will investors let the CEO feather his nest while running the company into the ground? I'd guess the company will shed another $30B in market cap before private equity takes it over.

bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 4:57:02 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?

CapitalC post is 100% correct.


LR analysis give me a break with your assement. You put far too much stock in the CEO role at a company like CISCO.  CISCO has struggled and tanked - but its not the CEO's fault - no its the people below him. How naive are people to think that its not Chambers fault.

When Cisco is doing well John gets the BIGGEST reward. When CISCO is not doing so Good John gets to whack or blame other people and gets a LESS BIGGER Reward!

Get real man and don't insult people with naive analysis.



ericdong 12/5/2012 | 4:57:02 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?

Why not CTO Padmasree Warrior, if compnay lost its focus, it is CTO didn't do her job. 

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:57:01 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?


I think you are reading the article incorrectly. Craig isn't blaming Ned for Cisco's woes or saying that Chambers has done a good job - he has identified someone who might be next in the firing line as Chambers looks for execs to blame.

If Craig had written that Chambers was a great CEO being let down by his minions, then fair enough, you could call his analysis naive, but that's not what he wrote....  

dellman 12/5/2012 | 4:57:00 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?

Just wondering if the senior executives from any of the acquisitions cisco made in last few years are still working in Cisco?

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:57:00 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?

seven -- Yep, that sums it up well (both paragraphs).

bollocks -- You're reading waaaay too much into my post.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:57:00 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?


I think bollocks was responding to Craig's forum post NOT the article directly.

I think the debate goes - Well, Chambers tried a bunch of stuff and failed.  Why should others pay for this?  versus Well, at least Chambers tried stuff.  His track record should buy him some good will in the mind of investors.



tommytelephone 12/5/2012 | 4:56:58 PM
re: Who Else Is Exiting Cisco?

Who would hand out the ice cream bars?

How many times have we seen Cisco make a big announcement about venturing into this business or that, with great fanfare.  They hold conferences with impressive speakers who are not free to talk about very much detail.  Sorry, that's NDA stuff. 

Then after a few years of great promises and customer investments they decide to end the venture.  They lay off employees and  promise clients that they will find a way to bridge the gap.  They find another company that agrees to pick up the pieces, and sell new systems, at a greater expense, to the years behind schedule client.  Ah but Cisco hangs on to continue to supply the most important component: The overpriced Cisco routers.


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