Ex-Apple 'grip of death' exec lands at Cisco

Mark Papermaster now VP of Cisco's Silicon Switching Technology Group

The public may know him best as the mastermind (or fall guy) behind the iPhone "grip of death" disaster, but there must be much more to engineering executive Mark Papermaster given that he's worked for three of the industry's biggest names - IBM, Apple and now Cisco - within a span of two years.

Either that or the guy just can't hold a job.

Having departed Apple under the most unflattering of circumstances this summer, Papermaster has landed on his feet with the biggest name in networking.

From an IDG News Service story on our site:

Papermaster has already started working at Cisco as vice president of the Silicon Switching Technology Group, Cisco spokesman Neil Wu Becker said. That group oversees chips developed in-house for Cisco's switches, including the ASICs for the Nexus 7000 data-center switch and the Catalyst line of LAN switches, he said. Papermaster will report to John McCool, senior vice president of Cisco's data-center switching and services technology group.

Though he gained notoriety for his role at Apple, Papermaster spent 26 years at IBM, primarily in chip design, before joining that company. His hiring at Apple in 2008 led to a lawsuit by IBM, and he did not start at Apple until early 2009 after the dispute was resolved.

There is no word as to whether Apple did or will try to prevent Papermaster from working at Cisco, but I'm guessing all is clear.

Either way, industry watchers are of the opinion that Papermaster will find Cisco a better fit than he did Apple. From a Fortune story:

At Apple, he was put in charge of two lines of consumer hardware -- iPhones and iPods -- that couldn't be flashier or more high-profile. He also answered directly to (Apple CEO Steve) Jobs, who as it turned out was MIA when Papermaster arrived in Cupertino.

"Papermaster started his position," the (Wall Street) Journal reminds us, "while Jobs was on sick leave to receive a liver transplant during the first half of 2009. At the time, executives had more autonomy to make decisions, so Mr. Papermaster was likely ill-prepared when Mr. Jobs, who is known for his hands-on management style, returned."

He should be more comfortable with John Chambers, who spent six years at IBM and eight years at Wang before joining Cisco in 1991. Like Big Blue, Cisco serves enterprises, not consumers. The two companies have similar corporate cultures, and they formed an alliance when Cisco bought IBM's networking division in 1999. As part of the deal, IBM Global Services resells Cisco's products.

And perhaps most important of all, Papermaster's only worries about cell reception will involve his own phone.

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