Entrenched Corporate Leader: John Chambers of Cisco

John Chambers, Chairman & CEO
Cisco Systems (CSCO-NASDAQ)

In the world of networking and technology, John Chambers of Cisco Systems may be the most entrenched CEO there is.  He’s there as long as he wants to be.

He is not yet 60 years old, looks far younger, and is down to earth enough publicly in the media to the point that he asks people to call him John.  He is very active in the acquisition determination process at the company as you would expect, but they have rolled up enough companies that some could argue they are a technology acquisition holding company and post-incubator.  With Linksys and Scientific-Atlanta the company has really changed from a mere backbone equipment provider into a company that (regardless of how you connect to the internet) literally provides the connectivity equipment and solutions from the point that data starts to leave Servers all the way up to the last wire (or equivalent) to your computer (or web access device). His holdings in the company are not even 1%, but he is the de facto face person and spokesperson for the company.

The company has been able to grow its market share and not lose it when they had reached the point that others could start winning it away.  It didn’t happen.  Juniper, Huawei, Nortel, Lucent, and so on were never able to steal away what could have been stolen from 2000 to 2005.  It isn’t even his fault that the stock used to be more than 200% higher than the current price, after all he didn’t make up what we now know was a stupid stock market from 1999 to 2000.  There were some times in 2001 to 2003 and then again in 2005 that shareholders might have started thinking that fresh blood was what the company needed at the top, but as it looks now that is all in the past.  It would take a critical sweeping series of errors for him to lose his position.  Any old shareholder cries for new leadership are long gone.

I don’t know what would happen to the stock in exact percentage terms if we walked into our offices and saw a headline “John Chambers Announces Resignation.”  Obviously the stock would be down, and it is only arguable by how much.  As long as that wasn’t part of a scandal he would be swept up for a key advisory position or even much higher in the world. 

He’s there as long as he wants to be.

As a reminder, here is the link back to the introduction of this CEO segment.

Jon C. Ogg
January 17, 2007