When Cisco Got Social

4:00 PM -- If you were wondering what happened to the social media bits-and-pieces that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) acquired in 2007, they're still in the Media Solutions Group, just not necessarily filling the roles Cisco expected.

We got the score from Cisco senior vice president Dan Scheinman and crew during last week's show-and-tell for the Eos platform for media companies' Web and social networking efforts. (See Cisco's Eos Takes Aim at Internet Media Management and Cisco's Eos Press Conference.)

  • Five Across, acquired in February 2007, was building an application to add community to Websites, but it didn't have a way to add content (videos, for instance) and didn't have the analytics to mine consumer behavior for patterns. Moreover, Five Across was developing a component to be added to a Website, and that model didn't work out. "What we found is, there's a huge cost of integration," says Scott Brown, Cisco's marketing strategy manager.

    When Cisco decided to build Eos from scratch, Five Across's technology got left behind, but the people stayed on Scheinman's team. (See Cisco Gets Social.)

  • The Tribe.net assets acquired shortly after Five Across are being used towards "this idea of multiple, multiple sites, lots and lots of sites, with the data being the core of everything," Scheinman says. (The grand vision for Eos involves a great sifting-through of customer data across many sites, for ad and marketing use.) (See Cisco Adds to Social Stockpile.)

  • Then there's Click.tv, an asset purchase that Cisco wasn't able to talk about due to "a set of issues related to the founder," Scheinman says. The deal had been rumored in July 2007. Click was making a video player that let users add in-stream annotations that could be used as bookmarks. Its technology has become the video player in the Eos platform.

The key one is Five Across, which represents the original plan for Eos. Cisco didn't start out building an entire platform; its first target was just the social networking aspect, providing tools for creating Web communities the way Five Across had done for the National Hockey League.

"The assumption that I had made in the beginning was that you could get enough data out of that in order to do what we needed to go do for the bigger vision," Scheinman says. "It turns out that a lot of media companies are reluctant to put content into these communities because it devalues the content. What we were told over and over by media companies was, 'Why are you guys doing just that? Build a whole platform for us.' "

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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