How Chuck Robbins is turning Cisco around

Cisco’s CEO, Chuck Robbins, is a busy guy. I never see him not talking to a customer, partner, employee, analyst or some other person in the company’s ecosystem. Over the holiday break, I hope he took the time to put his feet up, light a cigar and reflect on what’s happened to the company he is leading over the past two years.

If we roll the clock back to Jan. 1, 2016, the stock was at $23.79, which was the lowest price point since April of 2014, and many Cisco investors were skeptical of Cisco’s future prospects.

A hefty amount of my business comes from my interactions with Wall Street, and two years ago, very few wanted to talk about Cisco. There were far more bears than bulls, and the feeling was that the cloud, software-defined networking (SDN) and other trends would slowly eat away at Cisco and it would go the way of Lucent, Nortel and so many other companies that were too stubborn to change their business models.

Today, the stock is almost $39/share, which is an all-time high except for the one year period in 1999/2000 when every stock was significantly overvalued. The turnaround in Cisco’s fortunes was remarkably fast. I understand the company has talked the market transition talk for about a decade, but it did nothing but tread water for a long time. It’s really just the past couple of years that Cisco has been in transition mode.

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