Extreme CEO to step down by year-end

Extreme CEO Gordon Stitt has announced that he will retire by the end of 2006. He will remain as CEO until a successor is found, after which he will become chairman of the board of directors, the company said in a statement.

Stitt was the first and only CEO of Extreme since the company emerged in 1996 with what was then among the first Gigabit Ethernet LAN switch products. He co-founded the company along with, Stephen Haddock, Herb Schneider and Vipin Jain. Stitt led Extreme from a small start-up company to a 1999 IPO, the boom-and-bust of the dot-com and telecom markets, and expansion into carrier, wireless and security markets.

The last several years have been tough going for Extreme, and anyone else competing against Cisco in the LAN switch market. The company's share of the market has gone from around 4.1 percent in 2001 to 2.2 percent in 2005, while Cisco has grown its share of the market to around 70 percent.

Among the challenges the vendor faces going forward are "poor sales execution in the U.S. and Japan, higher sales force turnover, and undifferentiated new product pipeline," according to a report written by Long Jiang, an analyst with UBS Global Equity Research.

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