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New Cisco Chief Strategy Officer

Today, Cisco announced that Ned Hooper would become its chief strategy officer, "developing Cisco's business strategy and identifying market transitions," according to the press release. That raises the question of where Cisco may be going.

My colleague Michael Hickins last month said that he saw the company as having an insufficiently "deep bench" in the management ranks after a number of high-level exits. This would certainly cement Hooper's position. Barron's Tech Trader even speculates that this could effectively name an heir apparent for CEO John Chambers.

Hooper has been heavily involved in a number of Cisco acquisitions, including:

  • Linksys
  • Scientific Atlanta
  • WebEx
  • IronPort
  • Airespace
  • Pure Digital
A minor bit of embarrassment: the Cisco press release actually misspelled one of the companies, listing an Airspace instead of Airespace. On a more serious note, though, is what his past experience at the company will suggest for future strategic moves. Acquisitions will definitely remain on the table, but will the drive to get bigger through purchase start diluting corporate strategy? Pure Digital simply doesn't seem to be a real fit with the overall theme of business that depends on network communication. He did receive criticism for the Linksys acquisition, though some diversification outside of the enterprise can be a good thing if done with some coherence. Given that his title has been senior vice president of corporate development and consumer, it doesn't seem as though the company will be taking back its expansion into the home market any time soon.

And speaking of that title, another consideration is that the new position is in addition to his other duties. Could it be that the extent of responsibilities could become too distracting? Only an endless round of back-to-back meetings will tell for sure.

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