Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Cisco Enterprise VP Alan Cohen Joins Stealthy Start-Up Nicira

Cisco Systems, the networking giant that has lately been known for rebuilding itself, cutting its headcount and resetting its growth expectations more than anything else, is losing a senior executive to the stealth networking start-up Nicira.

Alan Cohen, Cisco’s vice president for Enterprise and Public Sector, has agreed to join Nicira as its vice president of marketing. Cohen has more than 20 years’ experience in tech marketing and product management. He’s been on Cisco’s team since 2005, when it acquired Airespace, a maker of wireless networking switches, where he was VP of marketing. His resume includes stops at IBM, the old Baby Bell phone company US West, Tahoe Networks, Coopers & Lybrand and the U.S. Department of Energy. He’s a grad of the New York University Stern School of Business and American University.

By my count, Cohen will be the seventh person connected to Cisco in some way to join Nicira’s senior ranks. Nicira, which is backed by a $9 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz and another investment from VMware founder Diane Greene, is working on technology aimed at “virtualizing the network.” Its CEO is Steve Mullaney, a veteran networking executive who has worked at Palo Alto Networks, Shoretel and Cisco Systems. Its CTO and co-founder, Martin Casado, did his Ph.D. on the technology the company plans to bring to market. Its other founders, Nick McKeown and Scott Shenker, are electrical engineering profs at Stanford and Berkeley, respectively.

Cohen’s LinkedIn profile also says he spent nine years as a director of the real estate concern General Growth Properties. He briefly sat on the board of flash memory start-up Violin Memory until Cisco’s archrival Juniper Networks invested in that company earlier this year.

As a Cisco VP, Cohen may have been barred from being a director of a company that Juniper invested in, but now he’ll be working with some Juniper alums. In January, we reported that Nicira had hired Rob Enns, Juniper’s former VP of engineering.


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