John Chambers Agrees to Stay at Cisco Until Next Decade

Posted by: Peter Burrows on May 9, 2007

Hold the iphone on all that talk about who the heir apparent is at the networking giant. Turns out John Chambers has committed to stay at the company for another “three to five years,” he told me in an interview soon after the company’s impressive third quarter earnings call.

We were talking about my sense that Cisco is poised to make a much more aggressive push to exploit its unique position as the leading supplier of IP-based gear to both consumers, companies and carriers. Indeed, while the company has done an impressive job of generating new revenue streams with its advanced technologies initiatives in recent years (last quarter, these initiatives, which include security software, home networking and video systems, among others, actually brought in more revenue than routers for the first time, he claimed), the company has chosen its spots relatively carefully.

Now, Chambers has decided to pick up the pace. While the company took on two major new initiatives in 2006, he says he’s called on chief development officer Charlie Giancarlo to tackle a dozen this year. Chambers didn’t give much detail on what those might be, but did say to look for Cisco to make more acquisitions—and one way or another to attack more adjacent markets (especially in network-related software markets, he said. Heads up, Redmond.).

Given his desire to put the pedal to the metal, he says Cisco directors asked him at a board meeting in recent days whether he was prepared to see this offensive through to its conclusion. “I committed to my board of directors that I’m in for the next three to five years as CEO and chairman.”

That means others will have to wait for their shot at the corner office. While the public perception is that Giancarlo is the most-likely-to-succeed, especially after the departure of Mike Volpi earlier this year, many insiders thinkRobert Lloyd, senior vice president of US and Canada operations, is being groomed for the post. Guess he’ll be plenty groomed by the time Chambers takes his final bow.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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