The day that Cisco CEO John Chambers announced his replacement, and that replacement wasn't Rob Lloyd, I knew it was only a matter of time before Lloyd left Cisco. Now it's confirmed. Lloyd is leaving Cisco on July 25. Chambers announced on May 4 that his successor was going to be Chuck Robbins, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations at Cisco.
During Chambers's press and analyst call announcing the new CEO, he was asked specifically about Rob Lloyd. Lloyd has been at Cisco since 1994, starting his career as General Manager of Cisco's Canadian operations. Over his twenty years at Cisco, he rose through the ranks to become Cisco President in 2012.
Over the last two years, there hasn't been a major Cisco announcement that I watched or was briefed on that didn't have Lloyd's imprint on it. It was clear as day that he was being groomed to be the next CEO of Cisco. Lloyd had the right mix of sales and strategy, with a Canadian charisma that translated across the myriad times I saw him on stage and at more events that I could possibly begin to count.
For the record, I've never seen the new CEO, Chuck Robbins, on a stage as part of a major Cisco strategy or product launch. Simply put, Robbins is a sales guy. Lloyd has been the go-to-guy, and it was a shock to many Cisco watchers that he didn't get the job.
So why didn't Lloyd get the nod for the top spot?
"We're not going to comment on the internal candidates or their names or backgrounds," Chambers said. "What Chuck [Robbins] did so well is he really showed the characteristics you want in a CEO."
In a blog post, Lloyd stated that he has enjoyed the time he has spent at Cisco and the things that have been accomplished over the last two decades.
"I have loved the way Cisco competes," Lloyd stated. "In short – and to paraphrase one of my hockey idols Wayne Gretzky – together we have learned how to skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is, or where we want it to be, and we’ve developed the next generation of Cisco talent to lead the company through that transition."
The big question now is where will Lloyd go. Clearly he's CEO material and can and should be leading a company. The only question now is - if not Cisco, then who?
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.