3Com's Claflin To Retire, Search For New CEO Is On

Claflin will participate in the executive search, which is being conducted by a committee of independent 3Com directors, and for six months he plans to act as an adviser to the new CEO and the 3Com board once his successor is appointed, according to a company statement released late Wednesday.

Claflin joined 3Com in 1998 as president and COO and was named CEO in 2001. He&'s also a 3Com board member.

During his tenure as CEO, Claflin worked to help the Marlborough, Mass.-based company recover from its exit from the enterprise space in 2000. He subsequently spearheaded 3Com's quest to re-enter the enterprise market through a joint venture with Chinese networking vendor Huawei Technologies in 2003. 3Com&'s acquisition of security vendor TippingPoint a year ago also came under his watch.

“The foundation he leaves is solidly built,” said Gerald Waldrop, general manger of CWPS, a 3Com solution provider in Chantilly, Va. “The product lines and business partnerships he put together are going to give 3Com the platform they need to have a higher sales line and a profitable company.”

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Waldrop said he&'s optimistic about 3Com&'s future, adding that he hopes 3Com&'s next CEO will continue Claflin&'s support of the channel.

“I&'d like to see the new CEO have as strong of an allegiance to the channel as Bruce Claflin did and see that 3Com continues to have the strength to avoid the direct model,” Waldrop said.

Claflin&'s successor will assume his position on the 3Com board and as chairman of the Huawei-3Com joint venture.

A 3Com spokesman downplayed a report that health concerns played a major role in Claflin's decision to retire. "Bruce assured everyone in public conversations and in private conversations that it is not due to health reasons,” the spokesman said. “He set this plan in place a while ago." Claflin underwent surgery in 2003 to remove a benign tumor from his inner ear.

3Com said in the statement that it&'s still on track to reach a break-even financial model, excluding restructuring and amortization expenses, by early 2007.