Tony Li.jpgTony Li, the engineering star who was part of the success of Silicon Valley networking companies Cisco and Juniper, has left Cisco, and joined a six-person start-up called Portola.

Li’s departure was first reported by Om Malik, but Business Week has the scoop on what he’s doing now. We’re assuming Portola is based in Silicon Valley, but the article didn’t say. www.Portola.com has just PortolaNetworks.com has been registered, but there’s no site up yet.

As usual, Li’s plans are audacious. Here’s the BW description of what Portola plans to do in the delivery of digital entertainment:

For instance, a purchased movie would be transferred in good-enough resolution that it could quickly be downloaded to a wireless multimedia phone, or in full high-definition grandeur over a broadband connection to a big-screen plasma TV. “All of these things should happen auto-magically,” says Li.

Palermo says Portola will first focus on developing this “Internet Entertainment Delivery System” to handle movies, followed by music videos and then computer games…Portola’s software would have to handle content coming off varied networks (say, fiber, copper, or wireless), in multiple formats (say, to work with Microsoft’s Windows Media Player and RealNetworks’ RealPlayer), and with the firmware and drivers needed to jibe with all kinds of devices. “It’s the integration of everything,” says Li.

Not that Li has always had perfect…

…timing. He quit Juniper on the eve of Juniper’s IPO, and sources told us at the time that he’d likely given up a fortune (Juniper’s stock later shot to the moon). Here’s what we’d said of Li about three years ago, when he was working on a next-generation router company called Procket:

Li and his colleagues at Procket are some of the best in the optical-switch/router business. Li was the first non-founding employee at Juniper Networks…Previously, he was responsible for core Internet routing protocols at Cisco Systems. His code runs most of the Cisco and Juniper routers


PS: Thanks Abhijit, for the correct Web site address.

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