Timing of HP ProCurve Exec’s Departure Prompts Questions

There’s probably a good story behind Karl Soderlund’s move from HP ProCurve, where he served as vice president and general manager for sales and marketing in the Americas, to his new post as senior vice president for worldwide sales and business development at Certeon, a virtualized WAN-optimized vendor.

But, if there is good story, Soderlund isn’t telling it.

Instead, in explaining his recent HP ProCurve decampment, which coincided with HP’s acquisition of 3Com, Soderlund offered the following anodyne rationale to Chad Berndtson of CRN:

“It was a professional decision for me to leave to pursue this opportunity, and it’s not a reflection on HP to leave,” Soderlund said in an interview with CRN Friday. “What compelled me to make the move was that with Certeon, what a differentiated technology they currently have. There’s a big need in the marketplace for it.”

Soderlund declined to provide details on when the moves were made to bring him over from HP, but he told Berndtson that Certeon had approached him.

Certeon is doing some interesting things in virtualized WAN optimization, and I’m sure that the company made Soderlund an attractive offer, replete with all sorts of bonuses, options, and other remunerative goodies.

Still, the move prompts questions. Was the timing of Soderlund’s departure just a coincidence, or is something else afoot within the group formerly known as HP ProCurve?

It isn’t just a matter for idle speculation. HP has indicated that it wants to usurp Cisco as king of the networking castle; its 3Com acquisition was billed as a significant move toward the realization of that grand ambition.

Successful integration of 3Com is required for HP to make market-share gains against Cisco. We knew overlap existed between 3Com’s and HP ProCurve’s product portfolios, and we also knew that HP ProCurve and 3Com personnel would be displaced as a result of the merger. It’s obviously in HP’s strategic interest for integration-related disruptions and distractions to be minimal.

An old refrain is that people, including employees, vote with their feet. Industry watchers will be looking to ascertain whether Soderlund’s move was anomalous — as a result of his receiving an offer too good to refuse — or a possible sign of disaffection within the HP Networking camp.



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