Eye of the Storm: How John Chambers Steered Cisco Through the Technology Collapse

Overview

In March 2000 Cisco Systems, with a market capitalization of $531 billion, was the most valuable company on the planet. With 44,000 employees and a stock price at $80 per share, Cisco was poised for unstoppable growth and unending glory. Six months later with the crisp smell of cold cash in the air, Cisco president and CEO John Chambers vowed to change the world. Who knew that in a matter of days disaster would strike?

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Overview

In March 2000 Cisco Systems, with a market capitalization of $531 billion, was the most valuable company on the planet. With 44,000 employees and a stock price at $80 per share, Cisco was poised for unstoppable growth and unending glory. Six months later with the crisp smell of cold cash in the air, Cisco president and CEO John Chambers vowed to change the world. Who knew that in a matter of days disaster would strike?

The Eye of the Storm: How John Chambers Steered Cisco Through the Technology Collapse offers the gripping account of the high-tech American dream turned nightmare. Bestselling author Robert Slater's riveting narrative traces the path of Cisco's rise from anonymity to prosperity and then to its sudden, shocking fall, as a world without ceilings gave way to a world where no floor was in sight.

Through unprecedented exclusive interviews with Chambers and Cisco's top executives and unparalleled access to Cisco's private forums, Slater reveals the confidential working and insider decisions behind what was nothing short of a business miracle before the vision went temporarily awry. Unadorned and unequivocal, this is the fascinating story of how Chambers, once widely hailed as "King of the Internet," navigated Cisco through a period of inconceivable success before guiding his company through unimaginable misfortune.

Throughout this engaging tale of the birth and death of the new economy, Slater gleans pearls of business wisdom and essential lessons for corporate decision-making in the new millennium. Collected here are the brilliant maneuvers that catapulted Cisco to glory and the devastating mistakes that brought the company low. The Eye of the Storm is a story at once captivating, instructive, and provocative. Never again will we forget that our soaring revenues of today may well become our plummeting stock prices of tomorrow.

Slater's incisive and illuminating firsthand account takes you behind the scenes from the boom to the bust through to the recovery of a company that has earned its place in the history books as one of America's greatest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Slater, a biographer of Jack Welch and George Soros, here profiles John Chambers, the leader of Cisco Systems, one of the Internet economy's greatest success stories. The author traces Chambers's rise from a dyslexic West Virginia childhood to the head of what became, at its $500 billion peak, the most highly valuated company in the United States. While a trajectory like that could make one helluva business tycoon biography, Cisco's sharp decline during the recent recession-which occurred just as Slater finished his first draft-made Chambers's success a thing of the past and forced Slater to completely rethink the book. And though the author believes he "had a better story to tell as a result of Cisco's setback and the early stages of its recovery," he never quite integrates the two halves of the tale. Slater provides plenty of detail on the firm's rise, including its strategy of acquiring other technology firms, but fills the sketchy outline of the events that constitute the alleged "recovery" with generalities. Slater also repeats phrases, like a magazine headline asking if Chambers is "the best CEO on earth," and his quotes from sources are repetitive and too long. It's easy to understand why Slater wouldn't want to let so much research go to waste, but perhaps he could have gained some perspective on what happened to Cisco and to the economy at large by holding off a while longer. (Feb. 1)
Library Journal
Prior to the stock market crash in 2000, Cisco Systems was one of the most valuable companies in the country. Slater (Jack Welch & the G.E. Way) writes about the company's rapid rise and sudden fall, focusing on the leadership of John Chambers, who became CEO in 1995. Cisco was founded in 1984 to build routers and switchers, but Chambers oversaw its rapid expansion, fostering its "focus on the customer" philosophy and driving Cisco to enter into partnerships with vendors and to acquire a number of companies. The fall came in March 2000, when Cisco was forced to lay off nearly 8000 employees. Throughout, Chambers is presented as a maverick who turned Cisco into a phenomenally successful company but who was reluctant to take responsibility for its decline. The book concludes with Cisco's recovery story and lessons that other executives can learn from Cisco's experience. Recommended for academic, public, and corporate libraries.-Stacey Marien, American Univ., Washington DC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060188870
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/1/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Slater has written numerous bestselling business books, including Jack Welch and the GE Way and Soros: The Life, Times, and Trading Secrets of the World's Greatest Investor. His book Ovitz: The Inside Story of Hollywood's Most Controversial Power Broker received widespread media attention. Slater worked for Time magazine's Jerusalem bureau for twenty years.

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