Cisco's second-in-command steps down

Charles Giancarlo, 50, resigns as chief development officer at Cisco Systems, saying the timing would never be right for him to succeed John Chambers as CEO.

The man thought to be next in line for the CEO job at Cisco Systems has resigned, the company announced Thursday.

Cisco Systems

Charles Giancarlo, executive vice president and chief development officer, will be stepping down from his post as of December 31 after 14 years with Cisco. Giancarlo, 50, has taken a job as managing director and partner at Silver Lake, an investment firm focused on large-scale investments in technology. His first day at the new job will be January 2, 2008.

Cisco's CEO John Chambers said he had tried over the past six months to persuade Giancarlo to stay. He also said Giancarlo would always be a part of Cisco's extended family.

"Charlie is one of the few leaders that I lost and it wasn't the right time to lose him," he said. "Sometimes because of their expertise or certain skill sets it's the right time for people to do something else. But that wasn't the case with Charlie. We will miss him."

For Giancarlo the decision to leave Cisco came down to timing. He had been viewed as the most likely candidate to succeed John Chambers as CEO. But as Chambers indicated earlier this year, he doesn't plan to leave the CEO job for another five years. Giancarlo, who turned 50 this year, said he did the math and decided it was time for him to leave and do something else.

"I went home to my wife one day and told her that I fully realized what is meant by a biological clock," he said.

Giancarlo said it was a difficult decision he had been mulling over for about six months.

"I probably took longer than I should have to make the decision," Giancarlo said. "But it's a difficult family to leave."

"It has been a continuous pleasure for me to work at Cisco," he added. "Not a year has gone by that wasn't just a wonderful time in my life."

Giancarlo is the second potential CEO successor to leave this year. In February, Mike Volpi, former senior vice president and general manager of the Routing and Service Provider Technology Group, also left the company. He now heads up the video start-up Joost.

But Chambers said the company still has a deep bench of potential candidates to take the top spot when he eventually retires. And Giancarlo agreed.

"I see a number of candidates," Giancarlo said. "There are some interesting young turks coming up who will be great candidates a few years down the line."

Some of these candidates could come from the new development council that Cisco has created to help guide the company's future strategy. The council, which was announced earlier this month and was chaired by Giancarlo, reflects Cisco's move to a more collaborative leadership style that should help the company more effectively address market trends. The idea is that a group, rather than a few top executives, will be able to be more agile in charting the company's future.

Some of the leaders in this group include Kathy Hill, senior vice president for the Access Networking and Services Group; Ned Hooper, senior vice president of the Consumer and Small Business Group; Jayshree Ullal, senior vice president of the Data Center, Switching, and Services Group; Don Proctor, senior vice president of the Software Group; Tony Bates, who heads up the Service Provider Technology Group; Marthin DeBeer, who is in charge of the Emerging Technologies Group; and Senior Vice President Pankaj Patel.

Chambers also said the company will not fill Giancarlo's chief development officer position and instead will rely on the development council to handle Cisco's strategy planning.

 

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