Intel Lures Away Cisco’s Security GM and a Top Sales VP, but Don’t Cry for Cisco

Paula Musich
Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • Despite Intel’s having lured Cisco security GM Chris Young to its ranks, Cisco retains a strong security bench and has already replaced its former all-star GM with a solid leader in David Goeckeler.
  • Intel is obviously looking for faster growth in security than what it has done so far with McAfee in its portfolio, but whether Young can replicate his success in a different culture remains to be seen.

Intel Security poached two high-profile executives from Cisco’s Security Business Group this month, including Chris Young, who was senior VP and general manager of the business unit. Chris Young’s hire came just two weeks after Intel tapped Scott Lovett, Cisco’s former vice president of worldwide security sales, to lead worldwide sales for McAfee. Lovett’s move followed close on the heels of the departure of David Frampton, general manager for Cisco’s Security Access Mobility Product Group.

Young, in his less than three-year tenure at Cisco, oversaw the turnaround of Cisco’s security business, which went from shrinking revenue to the most recent quarter, where security revenues grew 29%, largely on the strength of Cisco network security technologies. No doubt Intel, in making Young SVP and GM of Intel Security, is betting on an encore.

For its part, Cisco named 14-year Cisco veteran David Goeckeler as Young’s replacement. Yet, does all that executive upheaval mean that the success Cisco has seen of late in growing its security business will take a hit? Already, Cisco detractors are saying its best growth in security is now behind it.

I respectfully disagree. Cisco’s elevation of David Goeckeler to the vacant SVP seat suggests to me that Cisco remains committed to its security growth targets and it has the utmost confidence in his ability to lead. He was the executive responsible for bringing the Sourcefire acquisition to the table, and he is described as being “instrumental” in developing Cisco’s end-to-end security architecture and (rather swiftly) integrating Sourcefire products into Cisco security solutions as vice president of product and platform engineering.

It is important to keep in mind that Chris Young did not engineer Cisco’s security business turnaround all by himself. He had the strong backing of upper management, including CEO John Chambers, who at the end of the day was willing to hand over $2.7 billion to acquire Sourcefire – the engine behind Cisco’s more recent growth in security. As long as Cisco continues to maintain a separate Security Business Group and fund any additional acquisitions deemed necessary, its commitment to growing the security business remains clear. However, should that unit be subsumed into another operating unit at Cisco as part of its reorganization and layoff of 6,000 employees, that event would signal weakened commitment to security business growth.

As for Intel, the company obviously was not satisfied with the growth of its security business, which is largely based on McAfee products and services, but also includes Intel’s hardware-assisted security technology and Wind River embedded business. It is likely that Intel wants both Young and Lovett to deliver greater synergies between Intel hardware-focused security and McAfee’s product portfolio and to speed that process along. Fresh, outside management talent with a track record for speed and charismatic leadership could be critical as Intel transitions the McAfee brand over to Intel Security. Longtime McAfee executives and former McAfee co-presidents Michael DeCesare and Todd Gebhart were likely viewed as not up to the task. Intel initially allowed McAfee to operate on its own and moved fairly slowly to merge Intel’s existing hardware-focused security with McAfee’s largely software-focused business. This change of leadership could signal a planned acceleration of that integration with a much bigger push to expand the opportunities.

What do you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.