Cisco loses Rowan Trollope, one of its top executives, to a small cloud software company

  • Trollope joined Cisco in 2012 and has been a senior vice president and general manager of the company's collaboration technology group.
  • He was one of CEO Chuck Robbins' top lieutenants and was often his sidekick at big conferences.
Rowan Trollope
Source: Cisco
Rowan Trollope

In the midst of an effort to transform from a stodgy hardware business to more of a software company, Cisco has just lost one of its top executives spurring the transition.

Cisco said on Tuesday said that Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and head of the emerging Internet of Things division, is leaving to become CEO of Five9, which provides cloud software for contact centers.

Trollope was one of CEO Chuck Robbins' leading lieutenants, also running the collaboration technology group, which includes Spark and WebEx. The change is effective on May 3, Cisco said in a statement.

The announcement of Trollope's departure was buried in the fifth paragraph of a press release that was focused on Cisco's $270 million acquisition of Accompany, a start-up that uses artificial intelligence to help companies find new prospects. Accompany founder and CEO Amy Chang is replacing Trollope as head of the collaboration technology group.

Trollope joined Cisco in 2012 after over two decades at Symantec and has been a senior vice president ever since. At Five9, which went public in 2014, Trollope will replace Mike Burkland, who switched from Five9's CEO to its executive chairman in December for health reasons, Five9 said in a statement.

About Trollope, Five9 said, "During his tenure, his team reinvented Cisco's Collaboration business, pivoting to a SaaS model and making design, simplicity and exponential improvement the guiding principles of product development."

Five9's shares have gained 60 percent in the past year giving it a market value of $1.7 billion.

— Ari Levy contributed to this story.