John Paczkowski

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Skype’s New CEO: Cisco’s Tony Bates [UPDATED]

Skype’s found a new CEO. And sources tell us (and others) that it’s Tony Bates, SVP and GM of Cisco’s enterprise, commercial and small-business unit. One good reason to believe the reports: Cisco just announced that he’s leaving the company and his duties are being assumed by CTO Padmasree Warrior.

In Bates, a 15-year Cisco (CSCO) veteran, Skype and its new ownership get an experienced executive to guide the company as it heads toward an IPO. The unit he was leading has $20 billion in annual revenues and about 12,500 employees, and Cisco called it “the heart” of its business. While Bates’s departure is a blow, Cisco was not caught flat-footed, with the well-regarded Warrior ready to pick up the slack.

UPDATE: Bates’s appointment is now official. Here’s the release from Skype:

Skype Appoints Cisco Senior Executive Tony Bates as New CEO

Head of Cisco’s Enterprise Business to Run Leading Global Internet Communications Company

LUXEMBOURG, 4 October 2010 — The Board of Directors of Skype S.A., a global technology leader that enables real-time communications over the Internet, today announced that it has named Tony Bates, Senior Vice President of Cisco, as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors.

Mr. Bates has over 20 years of leadership experience in the communications and Internet industries, most recently as General Manager of Cisco’s Enterprise, Commercial and Small Business Division. Mr. Bates was responsible for over $20 billion of annual revenue and managed over 12,500 employees worldwide. He was the driving force behind Cisco’s three key Enterprise architectures known as Borderless Networks, DataCenter and Collaboration. Reporting to Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers, Mr. Bates was a member of the senior staff responsible for charting the company’s global strategy and served on the Cisco Development Council, the Video Council, and the Enterprise Business Council.

Mr. Bates, in addition to running Cisco’s Enterprise Division, has also served as General Manager of Cisco’s Service Provider Group, responsible for annual revenue of $10 billion. An expert on Internet technologies, Mr. Bates holds nine patents and has served on the boards of a range of technology companies including YouTube, the video sharing website; TokBox, a provider of online video conference services; BubbleMotion, a voice-based messaging and blogging service; and LoveFilm, an online video streaming and rental service

“Skype is not only a powerful global brand but also a global technology leader in Internet communications,” said Mr. Bates. “There are extraordinary opportunities ahead for Skype and I am eager to lead the company through this exciting juncture in its continuing transformation. I look forward to working with Skype’s management team and talented employees to engineer the next wave of game-changing products and services for our users.”

“We are thrilled to bring on Tony Bates as Skype’s new CEO,” said Miles Flint, Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors. “His record of achievement and significant operational and management expertise, cultivated over a distinguished tenure at one of the world’s preeminent technology companies, presents a unique opportunity for Skype that we are enthusiastic to embrace.”

Egon Durban, Managing Director of Silver Lake, one of the company’s investors, said “Josh Silverman, our outgoing CEO, has been instrumental in maintaining Skype’s momentum and growth. Since 2007, Skype has more than doubled its connected user base and billing minutes, introduced key new products for desktop and mobile platforms, and initiated successful partnerships with companies ranging from Avaya to Verizon. Looking ahead, we are very pleased to appoint Tony Bates as Skype’s new CEO. He has tremendous management experience at a global public company and technology leader and is uniquely qualified to lead the company in its next phase of growth.”

“I am proud to have led Skype’s growth during this critical transition period,” said Mr. Silverman. “The company today has over 560 million registered users in nearly every country and continues to develop products and services our customers love to use. With a world-class communications industry veteran like Tony, Skype is well positioned to become the communications platform of choice for consumers and businesses around the world. I look forward to supporting Tony and the team in ensuring a smooth transition.”

Adrian Dillon, Skype’s Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, will serve as interim CEO until Mr. Bates joins the company at the end of October.