Snagging Tips in Between Noshes

Is Symantec CEO's time up? Cisco reunites again with old friends. 

Of all the shows that convene in San Francisco, Spencer likes the RSA Conference most of all. Where else can the Rumor-Mongering Mouser go to see security spooks dressed like him in trench coats and battered fedoras?

The Gastronomic Gossip also likes the eats that are prevalent at this smorgasbord-by-the-bay. We're talking smoked salmon, shrimp cocktail and clam dip, washed down with a good Napa Valley Chardonnay-very much to the Katt's exacting tastes.

The most popular party on the second night of the show had to be Trend Micro's soir??«e on the roof of the W Hotel by the Moscone Center. Thankfully, a large clear plastic tent protected the partiers from the skin-chilling spring winds blowing straight off the Pacific. A jazz combo and some fresh cut prime rib also met with the Party Animal's approval.

Among the rumors circulating within the RSA party circuit was speculation over when Symantec CEO John Thompson is going to step down. "There's this unwritten rule that CEOs shouldn't stay on the job more than 10 years because they become stale in the job," whispered one security industry observer. "And Thompson's been in the job for nine and a half years," the tipster said.

Then Symantec confirmed April 10 that it had laid off an unspecified number of veteran employees, with many of them departing from the Veritas storage division.

This news lent credence to the idea that Thompson might fall under pressure to depart if he can't quickly make Symantec's storage division more competitive with EMC and HP. But Thompson was a key speaker at the show and doesn't appear to be going anywhere soon.

Spencer felt the RSA festivities were only just compensation for the fact his penny-pinching editors wouldn't let him fly to Honolulu for the Cisco Partner Summit.

The Grimalkin was intrigued by the news that emerged from the show that Cisco is buying the last 20 percent of Nuova Systems it didn't already own. This is significant because Nuova was started by four former Cisco high-level executives: Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero and Soni Jiandani.

Cisco first invested in Nuova in 2006 and already owns 80 percent of the company. Cisco has used this startup strategy before by funding a spin-off founded by those same trusted, high-level execs they later brought back into the fold.

A source told Spencer the Andiamo project that resulted in Cisco's old storage switch was spun that way, too. Cisco has found this is an effective way to develop new products with minimal risk and lots of potential upside.

But one pundit offered Spencer another theory: With Cisco's stock price flat, it's one way to give those executives a nice payoff. The deal with Nuova is structured such that if the Nexus 5000 switch they developed is a great success, the payout could be as much as $678 million. If not, it's a lot less. "That certainly lends a special meaning to the phrase, -no guts, no gravy,'" quipped the Katt. ??

Spill your guts at, or give the Katt a howl at 415-547-8409.

Spencer F. Katt

Spencer F. Katt

Spencer F. Katt, the Whiskered Wonder, has been the mascot and tipster extraordinaire for eWEEK and its predecessor print publication PC Week since 1984. The Gadabout Gatto makes the rounds of...