Cisco CEO John Chambers Chases Off Yet Another Heir To His Throne

Cisco Ned HooperCisco Ned Hooper

Photo: Cisco

Cisco has again rearranged its executive ranks with another potential successor to CEO John Chambers out the door.Cisco’s chief strategy officer Ned Hooper is out, Cisco announced in a blog post. Hooper, a 13 year veteran at Cisco, was the architect of much of Cisco’s big M&A activity including deals like Cisco’s acquisition of Tandberg, WebEx, Airespace, Starent and, most recently, NDS. He also ran Cisco’s $2B investment portfolio which was famous for the Cisco “spin in” form of R&D. Cisco’s all-star team of engineers would become a fully funded Cisco startup and if their technology worked well, Cisco would buy the startup back.

Cisco says that Hooper will leave to start his own venture firm and that he’s been itching to go for months.

That’s not surprising. Hooper was the whisper name of the guy that could replace CEO John Chambers if he ever retires. No. 2 guy Gary Moore, Cisco’s first ever COO, is not considered to be in the running.

Every ambitious heir apparent always gets swept from Cisco’s ranks, employees told us. They’ll have to pry Cisco from Chambers cold dead hands. He’s 62 and has been CEO since 1995.

Meanwhile, Padmasree Warrior is moving up to take on the roles of Chief Technology and Strategy Officer. Warrior is a bright, articulate woman that worked up the ranks through the engineering side. But so far, she’s not been considered CEO material. She’s mostly worked as part of a team, and its hard to pinpoint any big Cisco successes directly on her.

Warrior was previously co-leader of engineering with Pankaj Patel.

It was a weird two-in-a-box leadership scheme, a hang-over from Chambers crazy council organisation, where teams were supposed running the company, but were mostly infighting, former employees have told us. Those teams were gutted when Cisco had such an awful 2011.

Patel has now been given sole responsibility for engineering, which is a good thing for Cisco. He’s known as the guy that helped Cisco develop networking gear for service providers back in the day when Cisco was only known as an enterprise company. He has considerable experience building networking gear for the enterprise before, too.

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