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Cabletron founder, CEO to resign

Founder and CEO of networking hardware maker Cabletron, S. Robert Levine, will voluntarily step down.

Cabletron Systems (CS) founder, president, and chief executive S. Robert Levine today voluntarily stepped down as chairman of the board and CEO of the company.

Don Reed, president and group executive at Nynex, was appointed to fill the chief executive slot.

Levine, who founded the company resigning founder Robert Levine in his garage in 1983, said he decided to leave the company about two years ago. The Massachusetts native said he didn't believe he could give the amount of effort and time involved to get the company to the multibillion-dollar level.

Cabletron sells intranet and Internet networking hardware, including LAN and WAN switches, remote access products, and advanced network and systems management software.

"I've never run a multibillion-dollar company before...I grew up in Cabletron. That's all I've ever seen," said Levine.

Levine has no plans to start another company. "I want to spend this time with my family."

At the news conference, Levine said he will stay with the company until November to assure a smooth transition. "There will not be a beat missed during the process."

Reed's first day as head of the new CEO Donald Reed networking hardware company will be September 1, according to company executives.

Analysts said Levine's resignation will mean that Cabletron can now concentrate its efforts on regaining the market share it has lost in recent years. The move is also seen as a plus by analysts, because most of Cabletron's competitors have already dropped their founders from top management positions.

"There are very few people who can take a company from zero to a multibillion-dollar level," said Craig Johnson, principal analyst for market watcher Current Analysis. "There are very few Bill Gates in the world."

Johnson said the decision to bring Reed on board will help the company continue to expand into the global market. "That's where the growth is right now."

Levine helped Cabletron cofounder Craig Benson find Reed about a year-and-a-half ago and coaxed him into bringing aboard his experience in national and global telecommunications.

"With the rapid convergence of voice, video, and data, Don's extensive telecomunications experience as a 30-year veteran of Nynex provides Cabletron with expert knowledge in key markets," said Benson.

Reed said he made the choice to join Cabletron within the last two weeks.

The Nynex executive has been negotiating his company's merger with Bell Atlantic--expected within days, pending FCC approval--and said he would not have accepted an offer from anyone else except Cabletron.

"This is a unique opportunity to run a company in these extraordinary times in the industry," he said at the news conference. The Cabletron culture is "very open and very customer-focused. That's something I tried to do at Nynex and was going to bring to Bell Atlantic."

Reed will resign from his post as president and group executive for external affairs and corporate communications at Nynex.

In addition to his work with Nynex, Reed is also involved in the global public effort to promote and develop the information infrastructure. He participated in the Business Roundtable efforts of the G7 Information Society Summit in Brussels in 1995. He currently serves as a Commissioner of the Global Information Infrastructure Commission and is its policy task force cochair.