Four of Cisco’s Most Influential Tech Execs Are Leaving

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins screenshot
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins screenshot
Courtesy of Cisco

Four key Cisco Systems execs are leaving the company on June 17, a company spokesman confirmed Tuesday morning.

Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero, and Soni Jiandani (long known collectively at and around Cisco (CSCO) as MPLS) have played key roles in Cisco’s “spin in” strategy under former CEO John Chambers. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Last week Recode recounted that three of the four—Mazzola, Jain, and Cafiero—had been reassigned to advisory roles.

Apparently that change didn’t take and leads some to suspect a management struggle at the networking giant.

In a statement, Cisco chief executive officer Chuck Robbins wished the quartet well:

I want to recognize Mario, Prem, Luca, and Soni for the countless contributions they have made to Cisco. I have personally learned so much from them, and they will always be an important part of Cisco’s engineering story.

The spokesman added that the group’s influence was reflected in successful products, dating back to Cisco’s 1993 acquisition of Crescendo Networks.

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The four engineers have been richly rewarded for their spin-in and other work. When Robbins took over as chief executive from Chambers last July, the fact that MPLS apparently continued to report to Chambers raised eyebrows. Chambers remains chairman of the board at Cisco.

Cisco Says Cisco CEO Is in Charge of Cisco

Mazzola, Jain, and Cafiero co-founded Insieme, a software-defined network company that was a Cisco “spin-in.” Throughout its history, Cisco often invested in startups with an option to acquire them. Cisco invested in Insieme in 2012 and bought it two years later for $863 million. The fourth executive, Jiandani, was a Cisco veteran who joined Insieme and came back to Cisco via that acquisition.

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