Ex-Cisco chief John Chambers: Tech biz bods are 'too arrogant'

It's easy to be serene from a throne of cash

John Chambers at the World Economic Forum 2010
John Chambers (Credit: World Economic Forum/swiss-image.ch/Michael Wuertenberg)

Today's captains of the tech set are just too arrogant, according to multimillionaire and Cisco-exec-turned-venture-capitalist John Chambers.

"I worry about our industry — it's a tug-of-war between overconfidence, bordering on arrogance, among some of the leaders," Chambers told Yahoo! Finance.

The moneybags 68-year-old reportedly still owns tens of millions of dollars in Cisco stock, as well as having banked the proceeds of 20 years as chief exec before he stepped down in 2015.

Since quitting Cisco, Chambers has started shovelling his mountains of cash into other companies through his VC firm JC2 Ventures, investments of which include drone companies and, weirdly, a startup that cooks insects and offers them up as foodstuffs. Naturally he's also written a book, because when life gives you hundreds of millions of dollars and you've already bought (and sold) the houses and other trappings of "high net worth", what else is there to do?

Chambers' VC activities, while mildly eccentric in his choices of companies to invest in, do at least embody something a bit more than the get-rich-quick mindset that is indelibly associated with America's Silicon Valley. His interest is in mentoring wannabe big dogs, as well as scoring a return on investment.

"For the companies I select, if they are arrogant I don't touch it," Chambers added, "I have developed a criteria [sic]. If the CEO doesn't want to be coached, if they don't know what they don't know, and truly if the chemistry is off, I don't touch them."

Arrogant execs are plentiful in American corporate culture. Tesla CEO Elon Musk angered the Securities and Exchange Commission after making weed-themed jokes on Twitter about taking his company Tesla off the publicly traded market. A threatened prosecution and a legal settlement later cost Tesla and Musk a combined $40m - $20m each - and the latter his chairmanship of the company's board. ®




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