Cisco Continues 'Ultra Aggressive' Acquisition Tear With Purchase Of Worklife
Cisco is continuing its aggressive acquisition spree around unified communications and collaboration with the purchase of Worklife to boost Cisco Spark. Worklife marks the networking giant's fourth UC&C acquisition within that past 18 months.
"Cisco is turning the [UC&C] market on its head by saying, 'We know there's companies out there in their particular field that do really phenomenal things, but it's very niche.' Cisco is now bringing those companies on board and making it native inside of Spark," said Chris Bottger, chief technology officer at IVCi, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner that's ranked No. 234 on CRN's Solution Provider 500. "This ultra-aggressive mode of acquisition specifically around the collaboration platforms is incredibly impressive."
Cisco unveiled the deal on Monday. Worklife is a San Francisco-based startup also known as Heroik Labs Inc., that provides software to improve meeting productivity that will be used to enhance Cisco's Spark unified communications platform.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Worklife application enables people to be more productive at work by giving them more options to stay engaged before, during, and after meetings, according to Rob Salvagno, vice president of corporate business development and head of Cisco's M&A team.
"We see an opportunity to build on the virtual meeting experience that the Cisco Spark platform currently provides, and enhance meeting productivity across the board," Salvagno wrote in a blog post. "For example, we can start offering additional tools, tightly integrated into Cisco Spark, to help users track calendars, create agenda templates, and collaborate on note-taking in real-time during a meeting."
IVCi's Bottger said Cisco is pulling together best of breed UC&C products natively inside Cisco Spark as customers seek more simplicity and better interoperability with their collaboration products.
"Traditionally, many companies said, "We're going to go for best in class, so we're going to buy maybe [Microsoft] Skype for Business and buy some endpoints from Cisco or Polycom or whoever is best for them," said Bottger. "The tragic thing about that … is best in class can suck because of the fact that the interoperability breaks down so quickly. Even though each product might be great, the lack of interoperability between and tying them together causes a huge issue."
Bottger said that with the acquisition of Worklife and several other companies in recent years, Cisco is building an "untouchable" UC&C solution in the market with Spark.
Worklife is the San Jose, Calif.-based networking leader's fourth acquisition around communications and collaboration since the purchase of Tropo in May 2015. Since then, Cisco also acquired Acano – a provider of collaboration infrastructure and conferencing software – as well as search-technology specialist Synata.
"And that's just specifically to collaboration," said Bottger. "It feeds into the aggressive strategy that [Cisco CEO] Chuck [Robbins] has, that is, 'Either we do it. Or we get it and we get it quickly and we focus on integrating it into the platform and making it very effective.'"
In June 2014, the networking giant acquired Assemblage, a provider of real-time collaboration apps for shared whiteboarding, presentation broadcasting and screen sharing. In December 2013, Cisco also acquired Collaborate.com, which built a mobile collaboration application that provides unified document sharing, task management and team communication capabilities.
Worklife's employees will report to Jens Meggers, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Cloud Collaboration Technology Business Unit. Cisco says it plans to keep Worklife's existing online meeting software offer free to customers.