June 2016: MPLS Team
It was a pretty big shock to the industry when Cisco’s Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero, and Soni Jiandani publicly resigned from the company in June. These four were known as the MPLS team — an inside joke among the four, which pulled the first letter from each of the executives’ first names to form an acronym commonly used in Cisco’s products.
Instead of doing normal product development, the MPLS team created spin-ins — startups that Cisco funded and eventually acquired. The latest was Insieme, which was the source of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). However, the spin-ins resulted in these executives making millions more than other Cisco employees, which created some internal resentments.
The reason for the resignations, “is based on a disconnect regarding roles, responsibilities and character,” according to an internal memo posted by Robbins. It seems like there was some confusion among the four when Mazzola, Jain, and Cafiero had been moved to advisory roles in the company, while Jiandani was to run the Insieme business unit. It was a week after this announcement that the four resigned.
Since departing, the four have been somewhat off the grid. Jiandani’s LinkedIn page reads “exploring the world and new opportunities,” while the other three executives’ LinkedIn profiles haven’t been updated or state that they used to be Insieme executives.
September 2016: Rob Soderbery
As David Goeckeler continued his rise to power this summer, it was unclear what Rob Soderbery’s next move would be. Soderbery was in charge of Cisco’s enterprise networking group, but that responsibility got handed to Goeckeler.
During his seven-year run at Cisco, Soderbery was well-liked and a seasoned speaker who often spoke about Cisco’s business and technology. While he oversaw all of the company’s enterprise products, it seemed like his group had reached its maturity level, and other business groups were rapidly growing.
Soderbery is now working as an advisor with multiple companies including data management company Rubrik, application lifecycle management company appOrbit, and monitoring company BigPanda. He is also a board member of payment marketing company UpLift.
October 2016: Zorwar Biri Singh
More than a month after Robbins named his 10-member executive lineup, the new CEO brought on two new outsiders to his executive team. In addition to Kevin Brady from Salesforce.com, Robbins brought on former Khosla Ventures partner Zorawar Biri Singh as Cisco’s CTO of platforms and solutions. He was also the senior vice president of cloud services and platforms — a crucial role at Cisco.
But as the company continued its reshaping process, it confirmed that Singh would no longer be with Cisco:
Cisco is making the decisions needed for innovation, speed, and growth across our portfolio. Earlier this week we announced to employees an updated alignment of our engineering teams. We believe these changes will help us simplify our development efforts and accelerate delivery of value for our customers.
As a result of these changes, Zorawar Biri Singh will leave Cisco at the end of October 2016. We thank him for his contributions to our technology strategy and wish him well in his future endeavors.
November 2016: Pankaj Patel
Although he announced in January that he would be leaving the company, Pankaj Patel didn’t officially depart until October after receiving a $5.5 million payout for ending his tenure with Cisco. Patel spent 20 years working at Cisco and most recently served as its executive vice president and chief development officer; he also led Cisco’s engineering organization.
Patel’s termination agreement said that he will receive the following:
- $1.041 million in severance pay (he gets $520,625 now and $520,625 in six months);
- A cash bonus of $1,498,298;
- 99,758 stock shares, which are worth $2,992,740 (based upon Cisco’s current share price of $30); and
- A lump sum of $12,209.57 for 17 months of health insurance under COBRA
Because he stuck around for another six months after his departure was announced, it seems to be an indication that it was a personal choice, which Cisco also characterized it as. Since his departure, Patel has joined Versa Networks with his former peer Kelly Ahuja to lead the company’s board of directors.