On Monday, the CEO of Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), John Chambers, said that he plans to step down after being with the company for 20 years. This marks the last exist of a CEO from a 1990’s technology powerhouse, or at least of those that still trade publically.
Chambers started at Cisco in 1991 as the head of sales and was thereafter promoted to chief executive in January 1995. During his time at Cisco, sales increased almost 4,000 percent to $47 billion in the 2014 fiscal year from 1995’s sales of $1.2 billion. Non-GAAP earnings a share has increased by more than 3,000 percent.
However, it was not easy. Chambers managed to navigate Cisco through the infamous dot-com bubble as well as the economic crisis of 2008. He also steered the company through the current period of exponential tech innovation that no longer rewards legacy equipment companies.
Interestingly, Cisco shares, which most recently traded roughly at $29.29, have not fully recovered from the dot-com crisis, peaking at $79.38 on the 24th March, 2000.
Cisco’s shares were up around 35% after Chambers warned investors about a tough economic environment in February 2013. Regardless of the dot-com crash, the company rose around 1,440% during his tenure.
The departure of the executive emphasizes a broader move in Silicon Valley that has been happening over the past decade, and has brought in such developments like the addition of Apple Inc. (AAPL) to the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
In March this year, after replacing AT&T, Apple Inc. became the 1st next-gen tech company to be added to the Dow 30. Apple jointed the likes of Intel Corp. (INTC) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) who were both added in 1999, and Cisco who was also then added in 2009.
The departure of Chambers serves as some sort of a torch-handoff to Silicon Valley’s newest superpowers that specialize in mobile devices, social networks and connectivity, from the previous software and hardware powerhouses.
This includes companies like Cisco, Dell, Intel and Microsoft, who were for a while known as the 4 Horsemen for dominating throughout the 1990’s and for their role in transforming the valley into the global technology hub it is now. The remaining 3 Horsemen have also broken apart their leadership teams from the 1990’s.
On Monday in a statement, Chambers announced that longtime executive, Chuck Robbins, will be his replacement. He further added that Robbins has the speed required to capitalize on the extraordinary innovation pace in the tech industry.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, Cisco’s own tagline was “The Internet of Everything,” and it was there that the company showcased how its networks power everything from homes to cars.
Chambers is not expected to disappear come July. He will be focused on building relationships with officials in various countries as the company looks to work with governments across the world to digitize them.
This has been a topic that Chambers has spoken about at length during this year and the company included this in a February blog stating that France will be the launch partner for the program.
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