Cisco’s legendary engineers that run Cisco’s most important business unit are being moved to advisory roles within the company, reports Recode’s Arik Hesseldahl.
And with that move, CEO Chuck Robbins has officially squirmed out from under the long shadow of his predecessor, John Chambers, currently executive chairman.
That’s because these engineers — Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, and Luca Cafiero — were responsible for nearly all of the company’s major new products via Chamber’s unusual “spin-in” financing.
A “spin-in” is where Cisco was the sole investor in their companies with a pre-arranged agreement that Cisco would buy their company once the product was complete. Over the previous 20 years, Chambers has funneled $2.38 billion to them and their teams via these “spin-ins.”
These engineers were running Cisco’s Insieme team, the last spin-in to be acquired and the unit responsible for Cisco’s flagship network product, the Nexus 9000.
When Robbins took over as CEO about a year ago, many people old us that he hadn’t really grabbed the power center of the company because these engineers continued to report to Chambers.
We also heard rumblings that the engineers could soon be working on another product for Cisco, but Robbins publicly said he had no plans to do more spin-ins.
The spin-ins were controversial within the company and created a culture of have and have-nots between employees selected to work on those teams and get those big financial rewards, and those who weren’t, some Cisco engineers complained.
Since he took over, Robbins has been systematically reorganising the company, putting his own people in all the key spots. In March, he reorganized into new business units to pursue new growth areas for Cisco.
Robbins also announced that David Goeckler, a senior VP who ran Cisco’s security business, has been promoted to run the enterprise networking group. Long-time engineering leader leader Pankaj Patel announced he was retiring in January.
Cisco could not be immediately reached for comment.