If you thought Juniper Networks was on the verge of some stability after changing CEOs, getting dogged by a hedge fund, undergoing layoffs, selling off certain products, and preparing for possibly more layoffs — think again.
Juniper CEO Shaygan Kheradpir has resigned after the company’s board reviewed “his conduct in connection with a particular negotiation with a customer,” according to a release issued today.
Rami Rahim, a 17-year Juniper veteran who was most recently executive vice president in charge of development and innovation, has been named CEO.
The decision was made Sunday night, chairman Scott Kriens said Monday afternoon during a conference call with press and analysts. Kheradpir’s “conduct was inconsistent with [the board’s] expectations, but it’s really about Juniper’s definition of leadership,” Kriens said.
Analysts on the call seemed unsettled by the news, and you can’t blame them. Less than two weeks ago, Juniper held an analyst day in New York presenting the progress of Kheradpir’s turnaround plan — and a change of CEOs doesn’t always bode well for a plan-in-progress.
Juniper officials noted that Rahim, being a top executive, has been involved with the strategy planning all along and is therefore on board to continue Kheradpir’s plan. “This action had absolutely nothing to do with our strategy or the execution of our strategy,” Rahim said on the call.
Another bit of unfortunate timing: AT&T announced late Friday that its capex spending for 2015 will be around $18 billion, off from the $21 billion the carrier had previously forecast. The implication is that AT&T won’t be buying as much equipment as it has in recent years.
It’s obviously too early to predict the effect this would have on Juniper. But here’s one upbeat note: During the aforementioned analyst day, Juniper pointed out that Tier 1 U.S. telcos — often code for AT&T and Verizon — represent 14 percent of revenues, down from 2012 levels due to increased sales to hyperscale data center types (Google and the like) and cable companies.
On the call, Juniper officials declined to elaborate on the events leading up to Kheradpir’s departure. Kriens offered a comment that leadership is continually under review anyway — something that might be academically true, in the sense that any job can be on the line on any given day, but that doesn’t soften the shock of a CEO being sent away shortly after presenting his case to analysts.