If Aaron Spelling had to direct one soap opera based in Silicon Valley, his story line would be a fictionalized version of the story of Procket Networks. The company has had more ups-and-downs that the Bennifer saga. CEO office was been warmed by more folks than those who have slept in Paris Hilton’s bed. Innuendo-meter reached a new high this morning, when rumors started flying around, that Tony Li, the mercurial and brilliant co-founder of Milpitas, California based company has quit. And so has Vito Palermo, the company’s chief financial officer. Now those of you who don’t know Tony, let me just say that he is the Michael Jordan of router universe. He worked at Cisco in the early days, then went off to Juniper and then later he started Procket with William Lynch, another brilliant engineer who crafted Sun Microsystems’ SPARC chips in his past life. Procket was going to take down Juniper and Cisco. Li, was a man on a mission. Many say that Li, is hard to get along with. Maybe, say others who know him too well. They call him tough, because he has fairly high standards.
So why did Tony quit? Especially so soon after the company raised $30 million in additional venture funding and won a key new account? Procket has raised around $300 million in funding since its inception. I think it is more to do with personalities. In recent weeks, Procket had managed to lure Roland Acra, senior VP and chief technology officer of Cisco’s service provider division, as the new Chief Executive. Now Vito, was one of the guys in the running for the top job, and found himself playing second fiddle to Roland. As a result decided to go pursue opportunities elsewhere. Li, however, my sources tell me did not take that too well. Or perhaps, it is board’s way of easing out Li? Or is just a way of prepping Procket for sale to Cisco, which is still struggling with its Huge Fucking Router. Cisco, certainly would not want anything to do with Li, who has been critical of the guys from San Jose. Who knows. The Procket sage just got steamier. Only last week I had met with the Procket guys. It was a fairly large party, except Li was not there. When I asked where he was they gave me the usual corp-speak. I guess it all falls into place now.