Thoughts from Chairman Chambers

Published: June 13th, 2012

SAN DIEGO – Cisco Systems Inc. chairman and CEO John Chambers and Canadian-born VP of global sales Rob Lloyd spent 90 minutes with the international press Tuesday at the Cisco Live conference, fielding questions ranging from their thoughts about China’s Huawei Technologies (a few unkind words from Lloyd) to whether the company has a succession plan for the long-serving Chambers (yes).

I won’t throw the entire transcript at you, but here’s a few nuggets:

What did you learn from killing the Cius tablet? “We probably should have made decision to leave the Cius market 9 months ago,” Chambers said, when the company saw it wasn’t hitting sales targets.

But, he added, good companies have to take good business risks. “The day we don’t take business risk is the day when a company’s already in trouble.”

And killing the consumer-targeted Flip video camera? “Instead of selling a device we should have put FlipShare in the cloud and on every smart phone. We missed that window, once you did you move on.”

But Cisco did learn that consumer products aren’t its focus.

Did you miss an opportunity when Microsoft bought Skype? Nope, replied Chambers, we had several opportunities to buy it ourselves. But, he added, we couldn’t have justified a $1 billion price tag to our shareholders, let alone the $8 billion Microsoft shelled out.

“Interesting move, very expensive.”

“One of the toughest things we have to learn ourselves is you can fall in love with an acquisition target, but you’ve got to be willing to walk” when the price isn’t right.

On the other hand, a company can’t be gun shy.

“Any company that isn’t afraid to make mistakes and jump back into the ring and get the fight going again isn’t going to lead.”
More coming Wednesday from here, including Cisco's strategy for software-defined networking.

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