122 Comments

Summary:

A few months after switch-and-router maker Cisco Systems acquired a content-management start-up, Five Across, the San Jose giant is going to acquire the assets of Tribe.net, an early social network, reports The New York Times. Cisco, is clearly experimenting with social networks, and that doesn’t necessarily […]

A few months after switch-and-router maker Cisco Systems acquired a content-management start-up, Five Across, the San Jose giant is going to acquire the assets of Tribe.net, an early social network, reports The New York Times. Cisco, is clearly experimenting with social networks, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be successful.

Social networks and Cisco pairing is as odd as the relationship between Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton, aka Fembot and the Freak. That didn’t work out, and neither will this.

“The idea that Cisco is going to be a force in social networking is about as plausible as Ning being a force in optical switches,” Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Ning, a Palo Alto-based social networking company told the New York Times. Aptly put! (Read: Ning: let 000s of social networks bloom.)

“Part of our job is to form a relationship with media companies and deliver technologies and services to them, so consumers can consume what they want online,” Dan Scheinman, Cisco’s M&A head honcho, who know the Media Solutions Group, tells the Times.

It is a bit of a head scratcher: What media companies does Cisco have a relationship with? Last I checked they sold equipment to large corporations, cable companies and phone companies? And those guys – they can’t even get people to use their email!

If cable operators and telecom are the “media companies” then they are the antithesis of cool, and social networks thrive when they are cool. Media companies and service providers aka incumbents want control – Social networks thrive when there is no control, and the community is allowed to mutate.

News flash for Cisco: This social software thing – it is too marginal, doesn’t make money and can’t make you cool. Stick to what you know best – plumbing hardware –sell tons of it, make money, and learn to live with the fact that you are rich and old school.

Don’t make me bring up pesky issues like: that in last ten months the only optical contract you have announced was an agreement with National Lambda Rail, and we can’t take that seriously, because as NLR annual report notes: the equipment was “provided under very favorable pricing by NLR’s founding member, Cisco Systems.”

  1. And which part of MySpace is it that’s cool? News Flash for Om Malik, 99% of the internet aint cool. At least Cisco has a cool name!

    Share
  2. Cool is subjective, and MySpace became MySpace because it was cool at one point. Now its just big.

    Cisco makes boxes – switches and hardware – not social networks. that’s all they are. and that’s not cool enough for them!

    Share
  3. By the way what is that 1% of Internet you find cool?

    Share
  4. Re: cable operators and telcos as “media companies”… I called Verizon a few weeks ago to cancel my landline. The rep who picked up said “thanks for calling your broadband entertainment provider”. I’m surprised they don’t have a social network :)

    Share
  5. the 1% cool part is commenting sections that allow us the pour scorn upon the writings of bloggers!

    Share
  6. Dan Scheinman gave a private talk I attended in late 2005. He said he had an early opportunity to invest in Myspace but didn’t pull the trigger (he thought privacy concerns would stagnate social networking).

    He’s got a vision of morphing Cisco into a consumer brand through hardware (ex Linksys) and internet. As tempting as it is to say Cisco’s jumping into social networking in 2007, it sounded like Scheinman has been envisioning this for a while…

    Share
  7. [...] Om Malik  is typically skeptical (gosh, he’s more cynical than me!): Social networks and Cisco pairing is as odd as the relationship between Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton, aka Fembot and the Freak. That didn’t work out, and neither will this. … [...]

    Share
  8. Ash Vasudevan Saturday, March 3, 2007

    This seems like an unrelated acquisition on CISCO’s part. If there is anyone who can make acquisitions work, it is CISCO. They have a successful M&A track record (mostly related acquisitions). However, my initial reaction was not “Why Social Network”, but “Why Tribe”. At this point I have more questions, and fewer answers.

    Share
  9. With all due respect to Marc Andreessen, I believe that it’s possible for Cisco to evolve. Some thought it was odd for Cisco to be in cable TV infrastructure, products and services business (aka Scientific Atlanta).

    It’s conceivable that Cisco’s enterprise customers would consider Five Across for internal communities of interest, behind the corporate firewall. Tribe could be applied by the cable MSOs or even Telcos to help them develop consumer communities, like a SaaS business model.

    Cisco also intends to be a force in consumer electronics, which was the focal point of their “Human Network” vision demonstrated at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. Apparently Linksys is a launch pad for other ventures.

    Share
  10. Cisco is in an early-stage of “connect everywhere” strategy. Very clever!

    a hint:IPtV

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post