Another Cisco alumni is joining stealth networking startup Pensando Systems. Randy Pond, the former EVP of operations at Cisco, will be the CFO of Pensando, according to The Information, which cited an unidentified source. Pond confirmed that he joined Pensando, but declined to reveal his role at the firm.
While at Cisco, Pond was close with former Cisco CEO John Chambers and also with Mario Mazzola, the former Cisco SVP who is one of the founders of Pensando. Pond was well regarded at Cisco and is credited with helping the company weather the 2001 tech and stock market crash.
Besides Mazzola, Pond will join other Pensando founders Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero, and Soni Jiandani. These former Cisco executives were collectively known as “MPLS.” The acronym is an inside joke, referring to the first letter of each executives’ first names, which also is an acronym for a transport technology.
The MPLS team was widely known within Cisco for doing spin-ins, or startups that technically weren’t part of Cisco but kept in close alliance with the networking giant with the understanding that they would eventually be acquired by the company.
That spin-in scenario happened three times — Andiamo, Nuova, and Insieme — were funded by Cisco and then acquired in deals with a total value of about $2.3 billion. The result was that these executives made millions of dollars more than other Cisco employees, which created some internal resentments.
The MPLS crew resigned from Cisco in June 2016 about 10 months after Chuck Robbins took over the CEO job from Chambers when he retired.
It’s unclear exactly what Pensando is doing. However, it’s speculated that the company is working on something in the storage networking business because all three of the MPLS crew’s spin-ins involved storage networking.
And the hiring of Pond with his operational skills and CFO title is considered a signal that the startup is moving closer to commercial launch.