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Exclusive Interview: Linksys Founder Says Time Is Right To Move On

Cisco Systems Thursday said Linksys founders Victor and Janie Tsao are leaving the consumer and SMB networking unit to help Cisco uncover business opportunities in China. Former Compaq Computer executive Michael Pocock joined Linksys as senior vice president and general manager to succeed them. Janie Tsao spoke with CRN Infrastructure Editor Jennifer Hagendorf Follett about the future of Linksys, opportunities for channel partners and the transition into her new role. Edited excerpts of the conversation follow.

CRN: You and Victor had such a personal touch with Linksys over the years. What’s been put in place to ensure that it continues to run independently?

Tsao: Throughout the years we’ve built up our business units, built up our departments. It is supporting each other to get to the next level. Having the independence within Cisco, that is very clear, with the structure reporting into Charlie [Giancarlo, senior vice president and chief development officer of Cisco and president of Cisco-Linksys]. And the departmental structures within [Linksys] are ready to support [it]. So even though Victor and I spend a lot of time here, the whole Linksys team is here, they are the guts of the organization … It’s really the team and the team is very accepting of Mike being their leader. He’s already been here for almost a week, so we’re really built up to the point where a new leader can come in and excel.

CRN: As you look ahead, what do you see as the most exciting opportunity for channel partners with Linksys?

Tsao: We have a lot of product lines coming out for small businesses. Our [small business] business unit, starting this quarter, has a lot of products ready to start shipping, so that’s one. But just taking point products is one thing, but I think Linksys to this point has been putting in the technology investments in terms of communication and video. Creating a converged solution, that is going to be best fitted for our partners. For example, the small business communication line we’re going to come out with. That is perfect for our channel partners to get into communication because it’s all now going to be IP-based. This is the perfect time. We’re doing a lot of training, a lot of Webinars, we’re going to be doing a lot of road shows. Our goal is to bring our data VARs into communications, into voice. Our voice VARs can also help to sell the data products … Then even for the network entertainment products, it gets complex these days. You can’t just go to Best Buy, plug in a box and do it … that creates a lot of opportunities for the home installer, even for the entertainment products. Voice and video are going to be combined. I know we’ve been saying that for a long time, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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