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Cisco's Video Chief De Beer Takes Leave to Tend Ailing Relative

January 3, 2014 | Telepresence Options

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Story and images by Peter Burrows /Bloomberg Businessweek

Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO:US)'s head of the video and collaboration group, Marthin De Beer, is taking a one-year leave of absence from the world's largest networking equipment maker.

De Beer, a senior vice president who oversees set-top boxes, Telepresence videoconferencing systems and the WebEx online collaboration service, said in a memo to staff that he's going on leave starting this month to tend to an ailing relative.

"I have been dealing with significant family health issues and have decided to step away from my current role at Cisco for the next year in order to best meet the needs of my family," De Beer wrote in the memo, which was reviewed by Bloomberg News. David McCulloch, a spokesman for Cisco, said yesterday that the memo was distributed just before Christmas.

De Beer, a longtime lieutenant to Chief Executive Officer John Chambers, has seen muted sales in his businesses as the San Jose, California-based company battles a slowdown. In November, Cisco said that collaboration revenue rose just 1 percent in the fiscal first quarter from a year earlier to $1.03 billion, or 8.5 percent of total sales. Sales of video gear plunged 14 percent. In the past, Chambers has highlighted those products as important growth drivers for the company.

Cisco forecast its first quarterly revenue decline in four years in November due to choppy spending in emerging markets and from phone companies. On Dec. 12, Cisco lowered its revenue growth rate for the next three to five years to 3 percent to 6 percent, down from an earlier projection of 5 percent to 7 percent. Cisco last reduced its annual sales growth forecasts in 2011, when the company had been projecting growth of 12 percent to 17 percent.

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