The company said in a statement that Patel, formerly CEO of Yago Systems, a company that Cabletron acquired last year, will succeed Benson, 46, as the company's new chairman, president, and CEO. Prior to his appointment, Patel, 43, held the position of senior vice president for Cabletron's research and development team. Benson will remain a Cabletron director, the company said.
Cabletron had built a reputation in the industry for being a maverick company, largely due to its two founders--the now-retired Robert Levine and Benson, who was in charge of day-to-day operations at the company after an abbreviated experiment with outsider Don Reed.
Patel, who has 20 years of technical and management experience under his belt, said that his goal is to expand Cabletron's efforts in new markets, including service providers and the growth markets for converged voice, video, and data networking.
As Yago's CEO, Patel led one of the industry's most successful and innovative start-up companies, Cabletron said. Under Patel's leadership, Cabletron said that Yago pioneered the field for layer-3 switching, allowing customers to transition from older, software-based routing technology to hardware-based switching.
"I was brought in to run the company, grow the company," Patel said in an interview with CNET News.com. "As a standalone company, I think we'll definitely focus on being fast-moving."
Benson cofounded the company in 1983 and helped it reach $1.4 billion in sales, according to a company statement. "Now that we've met this objective, I believe that it is time for me to step aside and turn the reins over to someone who can lead the company into the new millennium," he said.
Many analysts believe Cabletron's days as an independent entity could be numbered. Once viewed as a fierce competitor for the likes of the former Bay Networks and Cisco Systems, Cabletron has been relegated to second-tier status of late while competitors shift strategies to tackle the booming market for Internet service provider and telecommunications equipment.
The state of the market has led to rampant rumors that Cabletron could provide the data component for an older telecommunications firm, such as Ericsson. Those rumors may not die down with the ascendance of Patel as chief, who could be viewed as a placeholder executive until the company can be sold, according to analysts.
Speculation is also rampant that Cabletron could spin off a portion of its business--its Spectrum network management software division is the most likely--to reap rewards on Wall Street.
"I'm not ruling out any options," Patel said.
News.com's Ben Heskett contributed to this report.