Cisco to acquire Five Across

Cisco Systems will purchase Five Across, a startup developer of social networking software. The deal is expected to close by the end of April. Cisco has announced its intention to use the Five Across product line and personnel to bolster the development of the Cisco Media Solutions Group, a new business initiative launched by the networking company in late 2006.

Until being purchased by Cisco, Five Across has enjoyed a comparatively low-profile existence as a platform development firm. Just as formerly hot topics in Internet outreach and collaboration such as forums and portals became productized and easily replicable, Five Across has sought to make previously unique and bespoke Web applications for community development a more easily deployed commodity service. Five Across has previously announced three corporate customers, the most prominent of which is North America's National Hockey League.

Although not generally known for its consumer-facing solutions, a Cisco spokesperson, who asked not to be identified, said interest in capabilities provided by Five Across have become increasingly relevant to its usual back-office constituency. "A number of consumer technologies have driven enterprise development. Cell phones a few years ago were point devices you used to call someone else," he said. "Now everybody expects more functionality: e-mail, chat, and instant messaging, and enterprises are now asking employees to have these devices."

"In social networking... we are seeing as a new way for consumers to communicate with each other, with new friends, and to communicate with enterprises, and we are building ways to bridge some of the communication gaps [between customers and enterprises]," said the spokesperson. Cisco did not explicitly outline its plans for integrating the Five Across product line and staff, but said that the Five Across platform would continue to be available to existing and new customers.


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