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Cisco Big Bolts for Startup

A top exec at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has taken a powder, prompting chatter that he's becoming more involved in a startup developing a high-end storage server for video applications.

Andreas "Andy" Bechtolsheim, the VP and general manager of Cisco's gigabit switching business unit, ceded his post to colleague John McCool, formerly VP of engineering for the unit. He asked Cisco to provide no further information on his whereabouts. A Cisco spokesman says only that Bechtolsheim "made a decision to return to his entrepreneurial roots." He's kept no official ties to Cisco.

We've had our eye on Bechtolsheim for awhile, however, and it seems likely he'll be spending more time at Kealia Inc., a stealthy startup he helped found a few months back (see Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? and Kealia Project Raises Questions).

Kealia itself is a mystery, but early hints indicate it's at work on a high-availability video server. The company has applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the trademarked name "Streamworks" to sell "Software and Hardware to facilitate the transmission and delivery of digital video and audio."

When it first applied for incorporation in 2001, Kealia's founders listed the company president as David Cheriton, a professor at Stanford University who, along with Bechtolsheim, founded Granite Systems Inc., where Bechtolsheim was CEO when Cisco bought the firm for about $220 million in 1996. Granite was at work on multilayer switching and Gigabit Ethernet technologies that used custom ASICs. Its products were later folded into Cisco's gigabit switching unit.

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