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Cisco Executive Resignations: The End of Networking Spin-Ins?

Cisco Systems (CSCO) CEO Chuck Robbins might be facing the first PR crisis as leader of the networking giant. Or perhaps he is merely laying down he law. Either way, here’s what’s clear: Four Cisco executives that created some of the company’s biggest hit products are resigning, in an apparent disagreement with their roles under a recent reorganization, The Wall Street Journal reported this evening.

cisco-resignations

Cisco Resignations: Mazzola, Jain, Cafiero and Jiandani

The resignations involve Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero and Soni Jiandani. (ChannelE2E has not independently confirmed the resignations.)

The foursome is known for launching companies that Cisco initially funds and then eventually acquires. The strategy became known as “spin-ins” during John Chambers’ long tenure as Cisco’s CEO. The successful spin-ins and/or products launched by the team include the Nexus 9000, various data center offerings and the Insieme startup.

But the times appear to be changing. Robbins succeeded Chambers as CEO in mid-2015, and has had a relatively positive first year leading the company. He’s taken multiple steps to streamline communications and accelerate decision making at the networking giant, which had been known for bureaucracy. And he’s positioned the company to compete in the emerging hyperconverged data center market, while ramping up Cisco’s Internet of Things strategy. Plus, Robbins has bet heavily on security as well as subscription-driven software revenues.

Still, a Cisco reorganization last week apparently rocked the boat. The four executives’ decision to resign “is based on a disconnect regarding roles, responsibilities and charter that came to light immediately after the announcement,” according to an internal memo from Robbins, The Wall Street Journal reported.

chuck robbins

Chuck Robbins

The big question from ChannelE2E: Was this Robbins’ plan all along? Admittedly, that’s speculation on our part. Robbins praised the four departing executives in his memo. And Cisco isn’t exactly hurting for talent. The company employs about 72,000 people. And in an ironic twist, the four resignations could, in some ways, potentially help morale. It’s no secret that some Cisco insiders resented the “spin-in” team because they allegedly received financial perks that few peers within Cisco would ever receive. But as some capitalists might say: To the victors belong the spoils.

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