A team of star engineers from Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) have reportedly registered to start their own company, called Pensando, based out of Santa Clara, Calif. Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero and Soni Jiandani, otherwise known inside Cisco as MPLS, formerly worked at the San Jose, Calif.-based tech leader building new businesses and integrating them into Cisco. Now, the team will build their own company based on chip technology for networking and storage. (See also: VMware, Facebook Threaten Cisco's Legacy Business.)
The MPLS group formed of all senior vice presidents was reportedly given a range of latitude under former Cisco CEO John Chambers. The engineering team would form businesses that Cisco “bankrolled and then bought when they hit financial mileposts,” reports Silicon Valley Business Journal. It is suggested that when the networking giant’s current CEO, Chuck Robbins, took over from Chambers, MPLS clashed with the new leadership. Ultimately a situation unfolded in which the team continued to report to Chambers, who now serves as Cisco’s executive chairman.
MPLS-Formed Startup to Build New Chip
Until resigning last year, the MLPS team had been with Cisco since the company’s 1993 acquisition of Crescendo Communications in a deal which grew the firm’s business outside routing and into switching. Most recently, the team was responsible for “spinning in” Insieme, which Cisco originally funded with $135 million and agreed to acquire in 2013 for $863 million.
Pensando, which derives its name from the Spanish word for “thinking,” reportedly has about 20 to 30 employees working on a new, high-efficiency networking chip. Whether or not and where Pensando will seek funding is still up in the air, as The Information reported that talks with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) last fall resulted in no deal.
The new company isn’t the first to be formed by a team of ex-Cisco employees. Most notably, Cisco is undergoing a drawn-out legal battle with Arista Networks Inc. (ANET), a networking company founded by a team of former Cisco execs. (See also: Behind the Cisco-Arista Battle.)