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Cisco CEO John Chambers To Step Down This Summer

Taking his place will be Chuck Robbins, senior V.P. of worldwide operations.

John Chambers, CEO of tech titan Cisco, will step down this summer. During his 24-year reign, Chambers became nearly as synonymous with Cisco as Bill Gates was with Microsoft, or Larry Ellison was with Oracle.

Chambers will trade in his current titles of Cisco chairman and CEO for the role of executive chairman on July 26. His replacement as CEO is Chuck Robbins, a 17-year veteran at Cisco who is currently senior vice president of worldwide operations.

Chambers joined Cisco as head of sales in 1991 when Cisco was a 7-year-old company. Under his leadership, Cisco has grown from $1.2 billion to $48 billion a year in revenues and seen more than a 3,000 percent increase in non-GAAP earnings per share, according to the company.

"We've selected a very strong leader at a time when Cisco is in a very strong position," Chambers said of Robbins, going on in a statement to describe the next CEO's strengths as an insider. "Chuck knows every Cisco segment, technology area and geography and will move the company forward with the speed required to capitalize on the opportunities in front of us. He is a champion of the Cisco culture and has an incredible ability to inspire, energize and connect with employees, partners, customers and global leaders."

In the official announcement, Cisco emphasized Robbins' channel credentials. It noted that in his current role he leads the global sales and partner team that drives $47 billion in business for the company. In that role, Cisco credited Robbins with helping "lead and execute" the build-out of the partner program that is "now worth more than $40B in revenue to the company each year." Robbins was also a sponsor for the Sourcefire and Meraki acquisitions.

Robbins was elected to the Cisco Board of Directors effective May 1. For Chambers, the title change will probably mean fewer public speaking engagements as the voice of Cisco, which, because of Cisco's influence, doubled as a voice of the tech industry overall.

Chambers' new role will involve advising and supporting Robbins and engaging with business and government customers.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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