Cisco Elevates Acquisitions Exec to Chief Strategist


Cisco Systems Inc., the No. 1 maker of Internet equipment, on Sunday said it promoted Michelangelo Volpi, the strategist responsible for about 40 acquisitions in three years, to chief strategy officer.

In the newly created position, Volpi, 33, replaces Chief Technology Officer Judith Estrin, 45. Estrin said she's leaving on "positive" terms to start a company with her husband, Bill Carrico, a former senior vice president of Cisco's business for small and mid-size offices.

As Cisco's senior vice president of business development and alliances, Volpi became one of the most powerful dealmakers in Silicon Valley, directing more than 100 acquisitions and investments. It was Volpi who helped bring Estrin to Cisco; she joined in March 1998, when Cisco bought her video-software company, Precept Software Inc., for about $84 million in stock.

"Mike Volpi understands this industry and Cisco's business and products, I would say, as well as anybody," Estrin said.

Volpi will combine his acquisition and investment duties with those of Estrin's, overseeing Cisco's technology strategy as well as legal and government affairs. Volpi's promotion is effective immediately. Estrin's departure is effective April 28.

Born in Italy, reared in Japan and educated at Stanford University, Volpi joined Cisco in 1994 after three years at Hewlett-Packard Co.'s opto-electronics division. He became vice president of business development in April 1997, and assumed his most recent position in June.

Estrin, a veteran of the computer-networking industry, co-founded Bridge Communications with Eric Benhamou, now chief executive of Cisco rival 3Com Corp. She said her new venture, her fourth entrepreneurial effort, will "work on some areas that will help the Internet scale" and will focus not "on just a niche, but kind of a broader horizon."

She declined to give further details.

On Friday, shares of San Jose-based Cisco rose $3.69 to close at $77.31 on Nasdaq.. They've more than doubled in the last 12 months.

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