Didn't You Mean 'Cisco Devolves Senior Technology Leadership Team'?

Published on December 21, 2007
by John Paczkowski

So much for Cisco Systems’ succession plan. Charlie Giancarlo, heir-apparent to CEO John Chambers, is leaving to join private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. Seems Chambers, who managed to talk Giancarlo out of resigning once before, wasn’t so successful this time around. “Charlie’s been one of the very few leaders that I’ve lost out of Cisco when it wasn’t the right time to lose him,” Chambers said during a conference call yesterday.

Indeed. Try as it might to paint a happy face on Giancarlo’s departure (the title of the press release announcing the resignation: ‘Cisco Evolves Senior Technology Leadership Team’), it is a major blow for Cisco–especially after Mike Volpi, another CEO candidate, left for online video company Joost last February.

“Charlie is too good for Cisco to lose,” Prudential analyst Inder Singh told the FT. “He has touched on or operated many different parts of their business. This will be fairly difficult for Cisco to explain and it will be difficult to replace him. They have a lot of people that probably will be groomed for the CEO position, but it’s not clear to me if there is anyone ready now. They’re all future prospects. You want to replace John Chambers with a John Chambers. It’s not clear that there’s anyone quite ready to take on that mantle.”

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