Updated from 10:36 a.m.
executive suite underwent an unexpected shuffle Thursday.
Michelangelo Volpi, widely thought of as one of the three top candidates to one day replace CEO John Chambers, has resigned, effective immediately. The move puts chief development officer Charlie Giancarlo more clearly in line for the top job.
While Giancarlo takes on more direct reporting from division heads, there appears to be no immediate change in store for Chambers. According to company representative, Chambers "recently reiterated" his intentions to stay on for another three to five years.
The news comes just two days after Cisco turned in a strong fiscal second-quarter performance and raised its sales targets for the current quarter. Volpi had recently headed Cisco's router business, and the suddenness of his exit surprised some observers.
"We believe Volpi was clearly a key driver of Cisco's growth and architect of the company's video strategy," Prudential analyst Inder Singh wrote in a note Thursday. "He was instrumental in the Scientific Atlanta deal as well as most of their growth acquisitions over the past decade."
In 2004, Volpi joined the board of Skype, the Net-calling upstart that was later acquired by
. In 2005, Volpi was passed over when Giancarlo was promoted to the No. 2 job at Cisco.
With a key departure like Volpi's, some see bigger changes ahead for Cisco's top management.
"We would not be surprised to see additional management changes among the senior-most leadership as the company prepares for its next phase of evolution," Singh writes.
Cisco is playing it close to the vest on that issue.
"We wish Mike well as he pursues the next stage of his career. He will always be a part of the Cisco family," the rep said, adding: "Cisco has a seasoned management team that will carry on the mission."
Cisco shares fell 8 cents to $28.01 in morning trading Thursday.