The 10 Biggest Cisco News Stories Of 2020 (So Far)

Cisco has seen layoffs, acquisitions, and a major executive shakeup amid societal issues and a global pandemic, and it’s only the halfway point of 2020. Here are ten of the biggest Cisco news stories of the year so far.

Hitting The Ground Running

From responding to the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to postponing one of its biggest events of the year amid worldwide outcry over racism and inequality, it’s safe to say that 2020 has thrown Cisco some unexpected curve balls.

The San Jose, Calif.-based tech giant is certainly not immune to macroeconomic issues, but the year so far has served up a trade war between the U.S. and China that impacted the tech sector. At the same time, two other societal and global issues came to the forefront. COVID-19 forced many employees around the globe out of the office to work from their homes, and businesses needed to quickly get the right tools into their hands of their staff to enable remote working. Cisco came to the rescue with free collaboration and security tools, as well as a $2.5 billion business recovery program to extend financing to cash-strapped businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. At the same time, Cisco hit pause the day before its virtual Cisco Live event was about to kick off in the midst of worldwide outcry over the death of George Floyd and resulting protests. The firm stepped up to the plate with a $5 million donation and commitment to be a part of the change needed to eradicate systemic racism, xenophobia, inequality, Cisco’s CEO Chuck Robbins pledged.

Then, there were the acquisitions and executive reshuffle. Cisco is in the process of closing two deals; one for network monitoring company Thousandeyes, and wireless IoT provider, Fluidmesh Networks. In March, Cisco also unveiled a large-scale revamp of its technology business segments and an executive shuffle to go with it.

It’s safe to say that Cisco has been busy this year and is showing no signs of slowing down. Here are the 10 biggest Cisco news stories of 2020…so far.

10. Cisco Donates $5M To Combat Racism, Inequality

Cisco issued a statement in June when it postponed its first-ever virtual Cisco Live event the day before it was slated to begin amid worldwide outcry over the death of George Floyd and resulting protests.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins (pictured) voiced his outrage for racism and inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, and called recent events "abhorrent." Robbins said: "It’s far overdue for all of us to take action to eradicate systemic racism, xenophobia, inequality [and] all forms of bigotry in America. How we respond will be an important moment in our nation’s history."

Robbins also promised that Cisco will help lead social justice efforts. To start, Cisco committed $5 million to several groups focused on social justice causes, including the Equal Justice Initiative, the Legal Defense Fund, Color Of Change and the company's own fund for fighting racism and discrimination.

9. Cisco Confirms Round Of Layoffs Amid Slower Sales, COVID-19

Cisco's second-quarter 2020 earnings were plagued with longer decision-making cycles for businesses, macro uncertainties, and unique geographical issues, including shut-downs in China as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. That's why in February, Cisco revealed that it was planning a round of layoffs.

The tech giant has not confirmed how many layoffs would be expected in this round, or which business segments would be affected. The cuts, according to Cisco, were part of its "ongoing process" of aligning its investments and resources to meet the evolving needs of customers and partners. Cisco also said that the layoffs were the result of slower-than-usual sales growth brought on by macroeconomic pressure, trade wars, and at the time, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.

8. Cisco's David Goeckeler Jumps to Western Digital

David Goeckeler, executive vice president and general manager of Cisco's networking and security business, announced in March that he was leaving the company to become CEO of Western Digital.

Goeckeler, a Cisco employee for seven years and one of the firm's highest-paid executives, got his start as vice president of engineering within Cisco's Security Business Group and was promoted to his role leading Cisco's networking and security units in 2017.

Cisco at the same time named former Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco Meraki, Todd Nightingale, as Goeckler's successor.

7. Cisco Restructures Business Segments, Shuffles Executives

Despite an executive shakeup and business segment revamp in November, Cisco in March announced it was once again restructuring its business lines and one big a major change to its executive leadership team after the departure of David Goeckeler, executive vice president and general manager of the Networking and Security business. Todd Nightingale, Cisco's then-senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Meraki, was named senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's $34 billion Enterprise Networking and Cloud Business.

Executive Vice President and General Manager of Cisco's Collaboration business Amy Chang took time off to spend time with her family, according to the company. In her place was Sri Srinivasan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Team Collaboration Group, who has since gone on personal leave. The new collaboration leader is Javed Khan, Cisco's senior vice president and general manager of Webex.

Cisco in March announced it would be combining its security and applications groups and in June, the vendor announced the group's leader: former Box executive Jeetu Patel.

19-year Cisco veteran Liz Centoni, who served as senior vice president and general manager of IoT for Cisco for nearly two years before she was tapped as the leader of the Cloud Strategy and Compute business unit that was formed in November, was once again given a new task. In March, Centoni was called on again to head up a brand-new business unit for Cisco, it's Future Technologies and Incubation group.

Cisco combined its silicon group together with its hardware platform and optics team. Leading the new group is Eyal Dagan, Cisco's senior vice president of Core Hardware Platform, who, up until March, served as senior vice president of Cisco's Core ASIC Group within the Common Hardware Group.

Lastly, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco's Service Provider Business Jonathan Davidson was raised to senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's new Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group, which the firm said is focused on 5G opportunities, webscale and service provider customers, as well as very large enterprise customers.

6. Cisco Commits $225M To Combat Coronavirus

In March, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins announced that the firm would put up $225 million in cash, services and products to support nonprofits, businesses and government agencies locally and globally battling the effects of the now full-fledged COVID-19 pandemic.

Cisco's investment included $8 million in cash and $210 million in product that will be dispersed across several groups. Specifically, Cisco said it would support industries such as healthcare, education, and government response. Cisco also said that it would allocate some funds to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, supporting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) worldwide efforts to help prevent, detect, and manage the spread of COVID-19.

In addition to giving out funds, Cisco gave businesses and organizations on the front lines access to its security and collaboration solutions, including Cisco Umbrella and Webex, for free.

5. Cisco Sets Sights On ThousandEyes

Cisco in May confirmed its plans to acquire network monitoring company ThousandEyes.

San Francisco-based ThousandEyes, with 400 employees, specializes in software that provides actionable intelligence to help enterprises improve their digital experience, especially as applications and workloads move off-premises and into cloud environments. The company's technology gives businesses better visibility and monitoring into their entire infrastructure to identify issues and outages. Cisco intends on incorporating ThousandEyes' technology into its application performance and monitoring business, which includes AppDynamics.

The two companies have not disclosed financial terms of the deal, which is still in the process of closing, but Bloomberg reported that the price tag was nearly $1 billion.

4. Cisco Business Resiliency Program Issues $2.5B To Help Businesses

Cisco’s financing arm jumped into action in April when it revealed its Business Resiliency Program that would extend $2.5 billion in financing to help businesses invest in the IT solutions they need to keep their businesses running and productive during unprecedented financial times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program, which would let customers buy now and pay later, would help businesses who are trying to reconcile between IT investments they need to make to with the economic pressures they are facing, the company said.

Via the terms of the new Business Resiliency Program, customers have 90 days from the time the order is placed to start making payments on Cisco solutions. After that, customers only have to pay 1 percent of the total contract value of the cost of a new product or solution until 2021. From January 2021 and on, customers can then make a monthly payment based on the total financed amount and the remaining term of the contract, including 36, 48, and 50-month contracts. Cisco also said that all of its IT solutions are eligible for this program, including hardware, software and services, as well as up to five percent of partner- provided services, such installation or configuration. Whether or not customers take advantage of the program, partners would be paid on-time by Cisco, executives said.

3. Cisco To Buy Fluidmesh Networks

Cisco in April revealed plans to acquire Fluidmesh Networks, a maker of wireless backhaul systems, for its wireless IoT capabilities. Cisco said that deal, once closed, will expand its leadership in the industrial IoT space.

Privately held Fluidmesh Networks manufactures hardware and software of wireless point-to-point networks and wireless mesh networks. Together, the two companies will build on Cisco's IoT strategy with the addition of Fluidmesh's wireless technology that can reach critical, on-the-move IoT applications, Cisco said of the deal.

The two companies did not share the financial terms of the deal.

2. Cisco Drops Out Of MWC 2020 Citing COVID-19 Concerns

Cisco was one of the first tech firms in early February to change its RSVP to the biggest telecom conference of the year, Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona, to a no, because of fears around the coronavirus outbreak at the time in Europe, which was gaining momentum quickly.

Cisco at the time called the decision to drop out of the show "difficult." Cisco's CEO Chuck Robbins was expected to deliver a keynote.

A day after Cisco and several other tech giants dropped out or scaled back their attendance for the event, the GSM Association, the organization that runs MWC Barcelona cancelled the show entirely, citing the coronavirus outbreak and resulting travel concerns.

1. Cisco Webex User Volume Triples

In June, Cisco revealed that its popular Webex collaboration platform grew even more popular as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic sending employees all over the globe home to work, to the tune of taking on more than triple the amount of global volume from March to June than it normally accommodates.

The Cisco Webex platform, which includes calling, video, and messaging, had more than 500 million meeting participants and logged more than 25 billion meeting minutes in April, according to Cisco.

To keep up with the influx in demand for Webex, Cisco worked diligently to expand its global capacity and has been focusing on continuing to bolster the security of the platform and add new integrations with third-party content management providers and intelligence to Webex in order to help businesses that are now dealing with a remote workforce, the company told CRN.