Two top executives close to Cisco’s outgoing CEO John Chambers have resigned, COO Gary Moore and president Rob Lloyd, the company confirmed on Monday.
Both of them were considered the front runners to become the next CEO when Chambers retired but neither of them of them got the job. Instead, Cisco surprised the industry by giving the CEO job to Chuck Robbins, the guy leading Cisco’s massive sales unit including its massive sales partner organization.
The outgoing executives’ last day will be July 25, at the end of Cisco’s fiscal year.
It’s not really a shock that these two executives would leave the company as Robbins takes over.
Gary Moore, 65, has been with Cisco for 14 years. And although his name was bandied about as a possible CEO, internally, people never really thought he would get the job, or last long after Chambers left. He was seen as an operational/execution kind of leader, a very good No. 2 executive, but not a visionary.
Robbins is also seen as an execution kind of guy, making Moore’s role under him a bit redundant.
On the other hand, the resignation of Lloyd, a 21-year-Cisco veteran, was a more classic Cisco scenario. For years he looked like Chambers heir apparent. Every indication was that Chambers was grooming Lloyd, who is 58.
Lloyd had been running the sales organization before Robbins, and was promoted to a role called “Development and Sales” which gave him a toe into Cisco’s critical engineering organization and product development. It certainly looked like a custom-made role to teach a sales guy about the product side of the house.
However, in Chambers 20-year run as CEO, there have been many instances in which Cisco appeared to be be grooming an heir apparent who did not get the top job and who ultimately left the company. The gossip mongers near the company say some were pushed out by Chambers if they started amassing too much power within the company.
A few of the ex-Cisco heir apparent roles include:
- Cisco’s former head of products Charlie Giancarlo, who became CEO and chairman at rival Avaya, as well as a investor/board member at Arista Networks, the upstart Cisco is currently suing. (Giancarlo is also a senior advisor at Silver Lake);
- M&A guy Mike Volpi (now a VC);
- and former top strategy and M&A guy Ned Hooper (now a VC).
Chambers insists that he’ll be Robbins’ “wing man,” taking orders from Robbins. But if Chamber’s power remains intact, Robbins will be dependent on him, at least at first.
So Robbins, who’s been at Cisco 17 years, is going to have to reshape his executive bench and create his own brain-trust before he’ll have the same kind of influence and respect that Chambers holds.
And so, we’re not surprised that these two executives are leaving, just as we weren’t surprised to hear that Chamber’s top corporate PR guy, John Earnhardt, was the first to jump ship.
Odds are, that more key executives will leave as Robbins builds his own team.