What happens when you have a very strong and high-profile CEO and a dead share price? If shareholders cannot do much about it, there becomes a long slow call for change. Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) has just gone through a serious reorganization among its middle ranks, but some investors would like to see a change at the top. Now we have news that one more possible replacement for Chairman and CEO John Chambers is leaving the company in a series of “changes at the top.”
Ned Hooper, head of strategy and M&A at Cisco, is leaving to start up his own investment firm. Chief Technology Officer Padmasree (Padma) Warrior will replace Hooper and add the strategic direction to her technology duties.
What is interesting is that the company has known that Hooper was going to jump ship for months and CEO John Chambers even said that he looks forward to working with Hooper in his new ventures. This does not appear to be a firing by any means on the surface but what it may signal is that John Chambers is unlikely to give up his CEO position as soon as many have been hoping.
Hooper will very likely get Cisco to invest with it on venture deals if you read through the language of the confirmed departure. It is doubtful that there is bad blood, but perhaps the stagnation that replaced the excitement has taken a serious toll. Now shareholders need to decide if they want more of the same or more of the new. Right now the company is offering more of the same.
John Chambers is not an evil CEO by any means. Wanting to keep control of a company is in most cases only natural. Still, it doesn’t sound like he is letting go of any part of grip on controlling Cisco ahead. Perhaps he wants to leave on a much better note for shareholders.
Cisco shares are down 0.6% at $16.83 against a 52-week range of $13.30 to $21.30, and its market capitalization rate is now back down to $90 billion.
JON C. OGG