Cisco plays the startup name game

March 28, 2007

2 Min Read
Spans Logic's Spell

1:55 PM -- Here's some news and notes from the WiFi-enabled breakroom at Building 10:

Cisco buys Spans Logic
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is buying Spans Logic Inc. , a 14-person company founded in 2004, for an undisclosed amount. Light Reading first reported on a potential deal back in February. (See Sources: Cisco Eyes TCAM Startup.) The generic (and misspelled -- see below) press release says Spans Logic "improves the speed of processing data packets across networks." That's true, but only a sliver of the story.

Cisco's Catalyst switches already use TCAM (Ternary Content Addressable Memory), the kind of technology that Spans Logic was building. The TCAM is a specialized piece of memory that helps switches perform routing table lookups. The result of these lookups determines how the switch handles a packet, so it tells the switch if a packet should pass through or be dropped.

What Spans Logic is doing is building a cheaper TCAM, one that doesn't require so many specialized (expensive) parts. As Craig Matsumoto's story pointed out in February, what we still don't know, but may find out later, is how much this purchase will affect Cisco's purchasing habits with its other TCAM suppliers: Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT) (Nasdaq: IDTI) and NetLogic Inc.

Of course, there are several different kinds of TCAM, and I don't know which Spans Logic is building. If you're heading to the crapper, you should take some documentation on Catalyst switches and read up on a problem called TCAM exhaustion. Click here. Riveting stuff, really.

Cisco is calling the company it purchased today SpansLogic Inc., as are all the commodity news services that lapped up its press release. (Click here and here.) Light Reading, previously and correctly, reported it as Spans Logic. The startup's Website says Spans Logic, but the confusion is understandable: The startup's logo reads spanslogic -- one single word with all lowercase letters.

One place I looked for a clue was the California Secretary of State's Public Records file. It lists the company as Spans Logic Inc., and there's no listing for a company called SpansLogic or spanslogic.

Want another variation on a theme? In his bio, VC (and former Bandwidth9'er) Hatch Graham lists the company as SPANSlogic. Click here.

Do you like to watch? Tell me about it.

— Tasman Jasmine, Cisco Watcher, Light Reading

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