Cisco strategy chief to leave after 13 years — the story was the same in the San Jose Mercury-News and the Wall Street Journal. Ned Hooper left to start an investment partnership (whatever that means). He had served as strategy chief since 2009. This raises two questions.
- Who knew Cisco had someone in charge of strategy?
- How the heck did Mr. Hooper keep his job for even three years given the incredible strategic blunders during that period?
Let us count the mistakes. First and foremost, Cisco pays a ton of cash to buy the Flip video camera, only to kill the product. It’s one thing to buy a competing product to get it off the market. But the Flip did not compete directly with anything Cisco makes. Perhaps the strategy was to eventually enter the streaming video market. But the Flip was hardly a competitor in that space. Is a puzzlement.
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Mr. Hooper was widely considered to be a candidate to succeed CEO John Chambers. Cisco has a long history of departures among people who aspired to Mr. Chambers’s job. But, as the chart of the company’s stock price and trading volume shows, Cisco has a long way to go to restore their luster. This looks like another case of the HP disease in which a passive Board of Directors allows the CEO free reign, but completely fails in its fiduciary duty to stockholders.