Cisco has announced that John Chambers, who has been the executive chairman of the networking gear firm for over two decades, will not be standing for re-election later in the year. The company’s chief executive officer, Chuck Robbins, will now take over as the role of executive chairman. With Chamber’s term set to end on December 11 this year during the annual shareholder meeting, Cisco will also cut down on the number of board seats from the current 12 to 11. Ten members of the board will be independent directors.
Chambers joined the board of Cisco in 1993 and served as the chief executive officer for two decades and only stepped down as CEO in 2015. During his tenure as CEO sales at the networking hardware maker rose from $1.2 billion to reach a figure of $50 billion. Growth stalled, however, following changes in the networking sector. Since 2010 Cisco hasn’t had double-digit growth in revenues though that was common during the early years of Chamber’s reign.
“They were doing great until the whole industry started to transition. Among hardware companies, they seem to be managing it well but it’s going to be multiple years,” David Heger, an Edward Jones’ analyst, said.
During his tenure as CEO, Cisco even briefly became the most valuable company in the world when its market capitalization reached $600 billion. The growth of cloud computing has however changed all that as some providers of cloud computing services have been building proprietary hardware and increasingly relying less on the traditional suppliers of computing gear such as Cisco. Robbins has been making efforts aimed at transitioning Cisco to a new era with emphasis on cloud software as well as standalone services that are offered over the internet. Cisco, however, still dominates the market for computer network equipment.
Since Chambers retired as the chief executive officer, he has turned to angel investing particularly in emerging technologies including drones. Earlier in the year Chambers led a funding round that raised $15 million for Dedrone Inc, a drone security startup. Last year Chambers also put his money in Airware, a startup focusing on enterprise drone services. Chambers is currently on the board of Airware. There has also been speculation that he could turn to politics after stepping down from his executive chairman role at Cisco. Though he is a moderate Republican Chambers voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.