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Juniper CEO Out In Wake Of Board's Review Of Conduct

Juniper Networks CEO Shaygan Kheradpir has resigned, following a review by the Juniper board of directors into his leadership and conduct.

Juniper Networks CEO Shaygan Kheradpir is leaving the company after a review by Juniper's board into his leadership, Juniper said Monday.

The board specifically called into question Kheradpir's conduct "in connection with a particular negotiation with a customer," Juniper said. His resignation is effective immediately.

Kheradpir, who joined Juniper in January from Barclays, has been replaced by Rami Rahim, executive vice president and general manager, Juniper Development and Innovation.

Rahim will also join the Juniper board.

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Scott Kriens, chairman of Juniper's board of directors, said after a close review of Kheradpir's leadership, it was "time for a change."

"In simplest terms, after the board's review on two fronts -- one being [Kheradpir's] leadership and the other, most recently, [having] to do with a specific customer interaction -- it was time for a change," Kriens said on a conference call with press and analysts Monday.

"We also believe that the potential before Juniper today deserves nothing less than the best leadership, and we have a compelling, ready leader able to take the company where we want to go and to accelerate Juniper's success," Kriens continued.

An executive from one Juniper partner, who asked not to be named, said he was shocked to see such a sudden change in leadership, but isn't entirely surprised to see Kheradpir go, since he never seemed to fully "connect" with partners or other senior executives at Juniper.

"I absolutely did not see this coming, but the minute [Kheradpir] stepped up on stage [at the Juniper partner conference] this January -- I mean, he was a really smart guy, but he just was not able to connect with a lot of different people," the partner said.

The partner also said Kheradpir's strategy of focusing on cloud builders and what he called "high IQ networks" didn't seem to resonate with the partner community.

"You could tell there was some pressure and frustration there," he said.

Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based Future Tech, No. 234 on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list, said he is waiting to see the details of the customer negotiations that led to Kheradpir's dismissal.

That said, Venero, who has been at the helm of Future Tech for 18 years, said he has seen an increasing amount of unethical behavior among vendors, solution providers and even customers in recent years.

"We are seeing more and more companies crossing that integrity line whether it is on the solution provider, customer or vendor side," Venero said. "Unfortunately, it is tied nine times out of 10 to greed. If you let greed run your company or your personal values at some point the hammer will come down."

NEXT: Departure Comes Amid Massive Juniper Restructuring


Kheradpir's departure comes as Juniper pushes on with a major restructuring effort, known as its Integrated Operating Plan (IOP).

Kheradpir introduced IOP in February, in response to mounting pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, which urged the company to reduce operating expenses, reevaluate its portfolio and shed any non-essential products.

Juniper last month committed to trimming an additional $100 million in expenses by the end of the year, increasing its prior commitment of $160 million to $260 million.

The networking vendor in July laid off about 6 percent of its global workforce, or roughly 550 employees.

Juniper said Monday that all prior commitments made as part of its IOP remain in place.

Rahim's appointment to Juniper CEO is one of many recent changes to the company's executive line-up and marks Juniper's third CEO in less than 18 months. The company has also seen significant turnover within its channel organization, including the recent departure of worldwide channel chief David Helfer.

Augie Riolo, president and owner of Knowledge Information Systems, a Norfolk, Va.-based Juniper partner, said he's concerned about all the recent change at Juniper and wishes the company would communicate more directly with partners.

"We've been with them a number of years now and we've got a good Juniper business," Riolo said. "Now with a number of Juniper reorganizations, they’ve changed things around a number of times and we're at this point where we're concerned that the direction of Juniper is not the same direction that we need for them to be taking."

Riolo said the change at Juniper is slowing partners down in the market, making it harder for them to compete with companies such as Cisco and Dell.

"Juniper had momentum in the market and was taking good share from everybody," Riolo said. "I don't know where that is today."

Rahim, a 17-year Juniper vet, previously headed all of Juniper's R&D programs across its switching, routing and security units. Juniper said Rahim was also one of the original architects of its MX routing platform.

Mark Robinson, president of CentraComm, a Findlay, Ohio-based solution provider and Elite Juniper partner, said he was excited to see Rahim take the reins, calling him a "phenomenal pick" to lead the company.

"I love the fact that Rami is a long-term Juniper guy, and that he really gets the Juniper story," Robinson said. "I think picking a senior leader like him is the perfect pick and, honestly, I am kind of reinvigorated by it because I know he really gets partners, customers and Juniper overall."

Steve Burke and Sarah Kuranda contributed to this article.

PUBLISHED NOV. 10, 2014

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