When 3Com CEO Scott Murray stepped down abruptly in August 2006, after just seven months on the job, 3Com veteran Edgar Masri was called in to take over his old company. Masri led successful enterprise, carrier and network access business units at 3Com in the 1990s. When the company shed these businesses in an ill-fated transformation attempt in 2000, Masri left the firm and became a venture capitalist at Matrix Partners, and later COO at WiMax firm Redline Communications.
As the boss at 3Com since August, Masri oversaw the acquisition of the company's joint venture with China's Huawei Technologies, known as the H3C. This week, 3Com launched a new strategy around its H3C-based routers, incorporating open-source technology and application partnerships.
Masri spoke recently to Network World senior editor Phil Hochmuth about why he came back to 3Com, the challenges ahead for the company, and what changes to expect.
What made you decide to come back to 3Com as CEO, after you served in various leadership positions at the company until 2000?
It came down to three key points. I had been studying and was very interested in China and the rise of China for over two years before rejoining 3Com. As a venture capitalist, I went to China three times. I saw a great interest on the venture capital side. I started to study the language. So the rise of China, the ability to do business with China, and leverage that, was a very intriguing opportunity. I was not looking for a job, because I had joined Redline as a chief operating officer. That company was going public, and did go public just a few months ago.
One thing you notice in venture capital is the entrepreneurial sprit of very small, dedicated, focused teams. I had heard great things about the TippingPoint team and the TippingPoint acquisition. And I felt 3Com was trying to build a lot of centers of expertise to reinvent itself. So that was another very encouraging thing.
The third factor was, as a person, I had a genuine attachment to 3Com. The business that I ran when I was here before is the only business that is left at the company. [So] being able to run it as a CEO was a very attractive proposition.