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Archive for May 2011

Cisco Pulls the Plug on Flip

Following two consecutive fiscal quarters, Cisco Systems shocked the industry three weeks ago with the news that it will cease to manufacture its popular Flip video camera and will lay off the division’s 550 workers, substantially reducing its consumer businesses.

Also within the past two weeks, Cisco unveiled a voluntary retirement program aimed at workers 50 years old whose age plus tenure at the company equals 60; these workers have from May 10 through June 24 to opt in. This is the first time in two years that Cisco instituted such a cost cutting policy.

Cisco recently hired Gary Moore as Chief Operating Officer to fine tune its re-focused initiatives.

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Revolving Door

In contrast to Apple’s stunning success, the first calendar quarter of 2011 was a revolving door for other Silicon Valley companies and executives. There were management shifts, shakeups and ousters at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Google, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Microsoft. They were variously aimed at jumpstarting product momentum (AMD, Microsoft), polishing a tarnished image and placating stockholders (HP) and providing an orderly transition of power (Google).

You need a scorecard to keep up with all the comings and goings.

AMD’s board ousted chief executive Dirk Meyer in mid-January after only 18 months on the job. It then appointed Senior Vice President and CFO Thomas Seifert, as interim CEO while the search goes on for a permanent chief executive. Siefert continues as chief financial officer and says he does not want to be considered for the permanent CEO position. This is probably a smart move. AMD’s flamboyant co-founder Jerry Sanders spent 33 years as CEO (1969 to 2002), but everyone who’s followed has had a short tenure.

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It’s hard to believe but the first quarter of 2011 is now a memory and we’re well into spring. The tone for the year in high technology was set in early January: fast, bold, aggressive action and sweeping management changes.

In the first four months of the year high tech vendors moved quickly and decisively to seize opportunities in established sectors (smart phones, virtualization, back-up and disaster recovery) and emerging markets (cloud computing, tablet devices and unified storage management). As 2011 unfolds, it’s apparent that high technology vendors are willing to shift strategies and shed executives in order to stay one step ahead of or keep pace with competitors. The competition is cutthroat and unrelenting. No vendor, no matter how dominant its market share, how pristine its balance sheet or how deep its order backlog and book to bill ratio dares relax or rest on its laurels for even a nanosecond.

Recaps of some of the year’s highlights thus far are very revealing.

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