Skype Swipe: High-Ranking Cisco Exec Named New CEO

Skype on Monday confirmed one of Cisco's top executives as its new CEO. Tony Bates, currently Cisco's senior vice president, enterprise, commercial and small business group, will join Skype as its chief executive and also as a member of its board of directors later this month.

Bates is a major player at Cisco. A 15-year veteran, he reports directly to Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and was a key architect of the company's Borderless Networks, data center, UC and collaboration strategies, including the forthcoming Cius tablet. He was also a past general manager of Cisco's Service Provider unit, overseeing the group when Cisco's CRS-1 carrier core router was introduced in 2004.

Cisco confirmed Bates' departure in a corporate blog post Monday, saying that Bates' responsibilities would now come under Padmasree Warrior, Cisco's chief technical officer. Cisco downplayed Bates' departure, indicating that Bates "leaves the company to pursue another opportunity" and that he "has been a great leader and asset to Cisco over his nearly 15 years here."

According to a statement from Skype, Bates will join the company officially at the end of October, replacing Joshua Silverman. Adrian Dillon, Skype's Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, will serve as interim CEO before Bates' arrival.

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"Skype is not only a powerful global brand but also a global technology leader in Internet communications," said Bates in a statement. "There are extraordinary opportunities ahead for Skype and I am eager to lead the company through this exciting juncture in its continuing transformation."

Next: Bates' New Role

Bates is coming to Skype at a critical time in its history. Not only has the popular consumer VoIP company filed for an initial public offering, but it's also making significant inroads into business enterprises, in part through a recently debuted channel partner program.

"We are thrilled to bring on Tony Bates as Skype's new CEO," said Miles Flint, chairman of Skype's board of directors, in a statement. "His record of achievement and significant operational and management expertise, cultivated over a distinguished tenure at one of the world's preeminent technology companies, presents a unique opportunity for Skype that we are enthusiastic to embrace."

Skype also has a number of powerful strategic allies in the networking space, including Cisco rivals like Avaya. Cisco was earlier this year said to be in talks to potentially acquire Skype.

Bates will replace former eBay executive Silverman at Skype's helm.

"I am proud to have led Skype's growth during this critical transition period," said Silverman in a statement. "The company today has over 560 million registered users in nearly every country and continues to develop products and services our customers love to use."