News & Analysis

Cisco Shakes up Leadership Team

Brings in Broadcom, Microsoft veteran to handle hardware sales and monetization

Gone are the days when CEOs of global enterprises used to rely on their PR machinery to share information about their companies, especially strategic ones like a change of guard or even the addition of a renowned name to the corner offices. But, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins just wrote a blog and got done with the matter. 

In the post, he states that the leadership changes in Cisco’s Common Hardware Group (CHG) is aimed to “build on our momentum and deliver unmatched innovation to our customers.” Reads like a press release, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what blog posts are coming to these days and understandably so as high flying execs hardly have time to think, let alone write blogs. 

Hardware Group gets a sharpshooter

Now coming to the actual changes, we have Eyal Dagan, who was the boss at the CHG for over eight years, is now moving out to focus on a new role in Cisco’s Executive Leadership Team or ELT. He has been designated executive VP of strategic projects and Robbins reveals that this move was under discussion between the two execs for some time now. 

Of course, those following Cisco would immediately recall the period of Dagan’s leadership when Cisco actually built a multi-billion dollar web scale business from grounds-up. However, that’s not the only change. Dagan’s place will be filled by Martin Lund, who will henceforth be responsible for the silicon, hardware and optics for the company’s switching, routing, optical cable access as well as IoT products.  

Does this mean Lund is seen as a better bet than Dagan for carrying forward the CHG’s business? Considering that Lund had led Broadcom’s networking business for 12 years before taking over as CEO of Metaswitch Networks, which was acquired by Microsoft four years ago, the move shouldn’t come as a surprise. 

What makes Martin Lund the ideal choice?

Furthermore, Lund comes on board Cisco after having served as corporate VP for Azure for Operators at Microsoft. He was responsible for delivering cloud-based services for Microsoft for both public and private 5G operations, packet core, voice and AI-led operations. Now, if that isn’t a sparkling resume for the CHG role, what would be? 

Here’s how Robbins described Martin Lund – “Martin’s experience defining strategy, leading global teams and driving growth combined with his extensive background in networking and AI make him the right leader to drive this critical part of our business forward.” Of course, he didn’t want to rub Dagan the wrong way and noted that he was “incredibly excited about what we can achieve for Cisco’s future” with the expertise of both these stalwarts. 

The right team to monetize the Splunk acquisition

The change of guard comes barely a week after Cisco completed its much-hyped and largest-ever ($28 billion) acquisition of Splunk. From Robbin’s point of view, this acquisition means that Cisco is now positioned to power and protect the AI revolution. The acquisition is expected to be cash-flow positive and be gross-margin accretive in fiscal year 2025, and non-GAAP earnings per share accretive in fiscal year 2026.

Market analysts hold the view that the Splunk acquisitions come at the right time as the adoption and impact of AI is growing rapidly across industry verticals. For Robbins, this is just the right time as “Cisco intends to provide the infrastructure necessary for powering AI, data for its development and a security platform for its protection and an observability point for real-time management and monitoring. 

“I am confident that with the strong foundation we have, we will accelerate the great work the teams are doing and identify new opportunities to deliver differentiated technology and solutions that will fuel the future of AI,” Robbins said in the blog. And why wouldn’t he be, given that now he has the technology and a wizard of sales to lead the narrative.