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According to a statement Monday, Cisco chairman and former CEO John Chambers will officially leave the company after 24 years when his board term expires in December.
USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — John Chambers helped build Cisco Systems into one of Silicon Valley’s go-go success stories in the 1990s and early 2000s — briefly making it the world’s most valuable company. On Monday, he retired.

Chambers, 68, will not be up for re-election as executive chairman in December, the networking company said Monday, ending his two-decade-plus reign at the company. Chambers joined Cisco in 1991 as head of sales.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, 51, will add executive chairman to his title.

“It is time for Cisco to move on to its next generation of leadership including at the board and Chairman level and to position this seamlessly for the future,” Chambers wrote in a Sept. 13 letter to Cisco’s board of directors. “It is also time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life, on both a personal and business level.”

Shares of Cisco, which have gained 7% this year, are flat at $32.53 in mid-morning trading.

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Under Chambers as CEO, Cisco’s annual sales rocketed from $1.2 billion in 1995 to nearly $50 billion in 2015. But its double-digit growth stalled amid wrenching industry changes as smaller, nimbler rivals found ways to design and manage computer networks.

During its fiscal fourth quarter, the San Jose-based company last month reported $12.1 billion in revenue, down 4% from the same quarter a year earlier. It earnings were 48 cents per share, or 61 cents on a non-GAAP basis.

In 2000, the company (CSCO) was briefly the most valuable company in the world, with a market capitalization of $557 billion. But it scuffled after the Internet-stock bubble burst, and it has never regained its lofty standing. Its current market cap is about $160.6 billion.

Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates in Boston, deemed Chambers’ tenure a “mixed legacy” after the early glory years that established Cisco as the dominant networking company.

“(Chambers) presided over a troubled time for Cisco as the markets quickly passed them by and Cisco was mired in legacy products,” Gold says. “That said, he also was instrumental in turning the ship around, although it took longer than…