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Cisco Buys Into Social Networking

The networking company reaches an agreement to acquire Five Across, maker of white-label social networking software.

Continuing its embrace of consumer-oriented technology, Cisco Systems today said that it had reached an agreement to acquire Five Across, a maker of white-label social networking software.

Cisco has made two other notable acquisitions of companies with consumer-facing products: Scientific-Atlanta in 2005 and The Linksys Group in 2003. Cisco's interest in these companies reflects the IT industry's recognition that consumer-oriented technology has a place in today's business community. To put it another way, everything's connected, which works out well for a networking company like Cisco.

In an interview published on Cisco's Web site, Cisco senior VP and GM of media solutions Dan Scheinman explained these acquisitions as a response to the age of the empowered consumer. "Cisco's role in powering the Internet gives us a unique perspective to talk about how consumers and the media and entertainment industry can take advantage of the shift from centralized distribution to on-demand entertainment," he said. "Our acquisitions of Linksys and Scientific-Atlanta make the network relevant to entertainment all the way into the connected home of the future, in which consumers can easily choose the content they want, when and where they want it, on the device of their choice."

In a statement issued today, Scheinman described the network as a "platform for organizations to connect with their constituents and for individuals to connect with each other."

So it is that Cisco plans to use the Five Across social networking platform to help companies add community-oriented features to their Web sites, particularly organizations that want to build better relationships with their customers. An example of what Cisco hopes to offer its customers can be seen at the National Hockey League's community site, NHL Connect, which uses Five Across' software.

"Empowered consumers are not only reshaping the entertainment industry, they will profoundly impact the way the traditional IT industry operates," said Scheinman.

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