Cisco Bigwig Joins Board at VoIP Favorite

Updated from Sept. 15

Cisco's (CSCO) router chief has taken a board position at closely held VoIP upstart Skype.

Mike Volpi, head of the Cisco technology unit focusing on boxes that direct Internet traffic, has joined the board of the Luxembourg Net calling company, according to a story published in BusinessWeek on Wednesday.

Skype has grabbed the telecom industry's attention with its promise to do to phone calling what the original Napster did to the music industry. Skype lets users to download software and make free calls via the Internet to other Skype users. The company, started by the founders of music swapping shop KaZaA, also sells service that connects Skype users to conventional phone networks.

Obviously, by using the Internet to bypass phone networks, Skype is seen as a threat to Cisco's telecom customers. But Cisco hasn't exactly enjoyed a cozy relationship with phone executives, who are generally opposed to any rival technologies.

According to one person familiar with Volpi's move, it was Volpi who approached the Skype people.

Cisco confirmed Volpi's board position at Skype and said it has no investment or involvement in the company. Skype wasn't immediately reachable.

On Wednesday, Cisco slipped 79 cents to $19.56.

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