Cisco spends money to prove Microsoft right

When I first heard about Cisco acquiring Versly, which enables collaboration within Microsoft Office documents, the thought sprang to mind – isn’t Chambers shutting down units?  Why buy Versly?  Then after a minute it became clear – Cisco is admitting that they cannot compete with Lync and its native integration to Office.  So if you can’t beat them, pay money to join them.

Cisco is struggling with focus and new market penetration in the wake of its well-publicized troubles, so the question obviously is whether this latest move makes sense.  The Versly deal comes hot on the heels of Cisco’s highly publicised abandonment of the Flip video camera product and its exit from the building energy management space.

The financial terms of the Versly deal were not released, but Versly reportedly only had nine employees, so it’s hard to believe that Cisco could have that much so the risk is relatively low – unless you’re customer who invests in the technology, only to find out you’ve been Flipped!

I think that given the small risk involved, Cisco made a wise move. Collaboration within Office productivity applications is already table stakes for anyone who wants to provide either office apps or collaboration capabilities. The more people use Google Docs, or Microsoft 365 or Lync with their Office suite, the more it will seem ridiculous not to be able to collaborate with others in real-time, within the document; or to be notified if changes have been made while you were logged out.

Ultimately, Cisco recent history of “Flipping” business units is of concern to Unified Communications buyers thinking about Versly.  There’s no guarantee that Cisco will make any headway against Microsoft with the Versly acquisition. But the move was well worth making for Cisco and it validates Microsoft Lync’s rapid ascendancy.