Dave was well rewarded for his contributions to the ‘454,’ when Cisco acquired Cerent for $6.9 billion on August 25, 1999. However, he did not find out about Cerent’s acquisition from anyone at the company, not even his boss. He read about Cisco’s astounding move in a newspaper a week after the acquisition. Where was he?
Even though Dave missed the celebrations and excitement of acquisition day, he knew he was able to exercise some of his options immediately; he already had built up two years of vesting. Bosses, friends, and family tried to reach him but ship-to-shore communications were not that accessible during the late 1990s. Cell phones were just coming into vogue and almost no one had a satellite phone.
But it didn’t matter. Dave had found out about having to work for a new company on his own. He no longer cared how much a cruise ship drink cost.
 Dave’s role at Cerent was critical to the company’s success and eventual multi-billion dollar performance at Cisco. When Dave started at Fiberlane in the summer of 1997, he was assigned to work on the optical (OC-n) card software. He was surprised at the time, because a more experienced colleague in SONET, Steven Liu, was assigned the DS3 software coding (electrical I/O card) instead of him. Dave ensured all of the optical cards would use a consistent software code – keep it simple was his mantra. His disdain for spaghetti code was well known and Dave ended up becoming a resource for many of the other software engineers that joined Fiberlane and then Cerent after him. Gary Baldwin, after he came on board in the fall of 1998, supported the “modular-blocks-of-code” approach to software. Spaghetti code was scrubbed from the ‘454’ system and bugs were stamped out as the company shifted to its Release 2-based architecture. After Dave’s work on the I/O cards, he took on a leadership role for the software networking team. He believes he and his team secured 12 patents for their networking provisioning work, which took root once Gary joined (since the product had to scale at a systems level). Collectively they worked on circuit provisioning and site-to-site networking using the OSPF protocol, an unheard of advance for optical transport products. He was key in helping to blend the telecom and datacom design worlds. Later, Dave was entrusted with 60 engineers across multiple Cisco development centers. The foundation he helped build, allowed the Cerent 454 and its myriad follow-on product offerings to contribute to Cisco’s bottom line even as John Chambers’ time at Cisco expired in 2015.