Cisco's Giancarlo leaving company

Cisco CEO Chambers' heir apparent instead joining private equity firm

Cisco this week announced the resignation of Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Charles Giancarlo, 50, who has decided to join private equity firm Silver Lake.

Cisco this week announced the resignation of Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Charles Giancarlo, 50, who has decided to join private equity firm Silver Lake..

Giancarlo, a 14-year veteran of Cisco, will become a managing director at Silver Lake Jan. 1. He will be replaced by a council of product development executives formed by Cisco earlier this month as part of a restructuring of Giancarlo's Cisco Development Office.

The so-called Development Council is chartered with driving Cisco's ability to deliver more focused and integrated products to its customers. The Development Council, comprised of seven executives, will direct Cisco’s efforts and initiatives in technology development.

The Development Council will report to Chairman and CEO John Chambers and will be responsible for the overall engineering, product and technology strategy for the company.

Giancarlo’s low profile at Cisco’s recent C-Scape analyst conference led to speculation that he may be about to leave the company.

"Charlie has been a close colleague and a good friend during the 14 years he has been at Cisco, and he has made many significant contributions to the company during that time," said Chambers, in a statement. "He has built a seasoned management team that has the strength and skills to execute against our technology vision in order to capture growth opportunities and market share. Cisco is very proud to have had Charlie as one of its leaders, and he will always be considered part of Cisco's extended family."

Chambers adds: “Charlie’s been one of the very few leaders that I’ve lost out of Cisco that it wasn’t the right time to lose him.”

Chambers said Cisco’s prioritization on collaboration and developing new business models is driving the company’s organization and business approach. Citing the establishment of the Development Council, he said Cisco will transition from a company that is “driven from command and control” to one that is built on teamwork and collaboration.

Chambers continued, "Cisco’s prioritization on collaboration and developing new business models is driving the company’s organization, cultural, global and business approach. As we build Cisco into a next-generation company, we will transition from a company that is driven from command and control to one that is built on teamwork and collaboration. The Development Council is one example of how this new structure will drive collaboration to effectively address market opportunities, drive efficiency and quality, and foster innovation."

Chambers said the overall leadership of Cisco is likely to adopt the council approach in the next 3 to 5 years. He said, however, that there would also likely be an executive in charge of the council.

Speculation now swirls around who might replace Chambers as the leader of that council. Giancarlo was considered the heir apparent after the resignation of Senior Vice President Mike Volpi early this year.

Observers now point to Rick Justice, senior vice president of Worldwide Operations and Business Development, as the next-in-line to Chambers – or to leave the company if he gets impatient to succeed Chambers.

Giancarlo joined Cisco through the acquisition of Ethernet switch vendor Kalpana. He started Cisco’s business development organization and developed Cisco’s M&A strategy, though much of the credit for M&A success went to Volpi.

Giancarlo initiated and then led Cisco’s small and midsize business activities, and contributed to the development of Cisco’s channel strategy. Giancarlo also initiated and led a number of Cisco’s advanced and emerging technologies, including unified communications, home networking, wireless networking, security, video, and TelePresence (compare voice/video/data conferencing products). Giancarlo spoke with Network World earlier this year about the company’s R&D efforts. 

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