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Cisco executive VP departs for start-up

The No. 2 executive at Cisco Systems plans to leave the company to run a Silicon Valley start-up with ties to the networking giant.

The No. 2 executive at Cisco Systems plans to leave the company to run a Silicon Valley start-up with ties to the networking giant.

Don Listwin, Cisco's executive vice president, will become chief executive of an as-yet-unnamed start-up that Cisco has a minority stake in, the company said. Today's announcement was made in conjunction with the release of the company's fiscal 2000 fourth-quarter earnings.

John Chambers, Cisco's chief executive, refused to disclose the name of the company. Details about Listwin's new company will be revealed tomorrow, Cisco said.

Listwin, a 10-year veteran of Cisco, was thought to be a likely successor to Chambers, though there has been no indication that Chambers will relinquish his duties anytime soon.

For the moment, Chambers and other executives will take over Listwin's duties, the company said.

"If you look at our momentum in the marketplace, we're on our third, fourth and fifth generation of executives here," Chambers said in an interview with CNET News.com. "Did I want to lose Don? Absolutely not."

Chambers said Listwin's opportunity cropped up only last week while the chief executive was on vacation. "He wants to be a CEO," Chambers said.

Listwin said that in his new post he will look forward to working with Cisco in the service provider market as part of the company's "ecosystem" model, in which it works closely with third-party companies on technologies it does not want to manufacture itself.

Chambers said Listwin decided only "very recently" to take the post after several discussions during the past six months with Chambers regarding his role at Cisco.

Listwin serves on the board of NetAid, a Cisco-backed relief effort, as well as on the boards of E-Tek, Software.com and Tibco.