Cisco Collaboration Head Takes Leave Of Absence

Marthin De Beer, head of Cisco's video and collaboration division, is taking a one-year leave of absence from the company to help care for an ill family member, according to an internal Cisco memo viewed by Bloomberg News Friday.

"I have been dealing with significant family health issues and have decided to step away from my current role at Cisco for the next year in order to best meet the needs of my family," De Beer wrote in the memo, according to Bloomberg.

As senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's video and collaboration business, De Beer is responsible for Cisco's end-to-end enterprise collaboration portfolio, including its TelePresence, Unified Communications and WebEx products. De Beer also oversees Cisco's service provider video business, which includes the company's set-top boxes, video gateways, cable modems and a range of other video infrastructure hardware.

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De Beer’s team will report directly to Pankaj Patel, executive vice president and chief development officer at Cisco, during his absence, according to the memo.

Cisco did not respond to CRN's request for comment by press time.

Steven Reese, chief technology officer at SIGMAnet, an Ontario, Calif.-based Cisco partner, said he has worked personally with De Beer, and views him as the "brainchild" of Cisco TelePresence and other flagship collaboration products.

"From a thought leadership perspective, [De Beer's absence] is definitely going to have an impact," said Reese, who also gave his best to De Beer and his family. "But, that being said, Cisco is in a mode right now of execution in collaboration, which is definitely where they need to be."

In its first-quarter earnings released in November, Cisco said revenue for its collaboration business was up a modest 1 percent year-over-year to $1.03 billion, representing 8.5 percent of the company's total sales. Video sales, meanwhile, were down 14 percent year-over-year.

Cisco's service provider business also took a hit, declining 13 percent year-over-year, a drop Cisco attributed to its struggling set-top box business, which alone saw revenue drop 20 percent year-over-year.

On a conference call announcing its first-quarter results, Cisco warned investors and analysts of a bleak second quarter and said it expects its revenue to slide between 8 percent to 10 percent. Continued weakness in the service provider segment, along with emerging markets, were the reasons given for the drop.

Reese, for his part, said Cisco's flat collaboration business isn't at all reflected in SIGMAnet's own Cisco collaboration sales.

"Our [Cisco collaboration] numbers are growing in triple-digit percentages, and we are having a stellar year in terms of year-over-year growth," Reese said.

Prior to overseeing Cisco's $9 billion video and collaboration business, De Beer led Cisco's Emerging Technologies Group. He also helped oversee Cisco's $3 billion acquisition of video communications vendor Tandberg and, more recently, its acquisition of NDS, a multiscreen video solutions provider.