Yesterday, Cisco marks its 25th anniversary with a call to community service. Chairman and CEO John Chambers challenged every Cisco employee to volunteer four hours of service in his or her local community. The networking leader’s goal is an aggregate contribution of 200,000 employee volunteer hours, which equates to approximately 25 years worth of service to the global community.
Cisco was founded on December 10, 1984 by husband and wife Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner, two former Stanford University computer scientists whose efforts to enable email between computers on different networks led to the invention of the first multiprotocol router. This seminal breakthrough played a major role in fueling the growth of the Internet.
Chambers says “In the coming quarter century, the role of the network will become even more important in driving growth, innovation, and productivity in industries such as healthcare, education and energy. Looking ahead, Cisco is positioned to lead the evolution of the network to enable a ‘connected future’ which is increasingly collaborative, video-driven, personalized, and mobile.”.
Twenty-five years, more than 7,000 patents, and nearly 1 million employee volunteer hours later, Cisco today is the worldwide leader in networking technologies that are changing how the world works, lives, plays and learns. The company’s commitment to innovation, customers and giving back has been key to Cisco’s success over the years—and it will drive the company’s ongoing mission to shape the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for customers, employees, investors and ecosystem partners.
For Presti, a technology consultant and former journalist who has been covering Cisco Systems since 1995, Cisco’s ability to reinvent itself is top of the list. Cisco’s tradition, he says, is not to be stuck in the past but to use the past as the starting point for its future.
In the mid-1990s, for example, Cisco was strictly a router and switch vendor. “It was all about plumbing back then,” Presti says. But over time Cisco has moved from making gear for data networks to providing all kinds of equipment for voice communications and video systems, highlighted by products like Cisco TelePresence. The company has also become much more focused on software to make networks work even better for communicating, collaborating and entertaining.
Perhaps more importantly, Cisco has also been able to reinvent its business operations. For example, Presti says Cisco’s rapid growth in the 1990s was threatening to outstrip the company’s sales capabilities. This is when it developed a pillar to its current operations: the Cisco reseller partner program.
•A quarter of a century ago there were just 1,000 “hosts” on the Internet, today there are more than 1.7 billion Internet users worldwide.
•In 1984, there were 1,000 Internet devices; today there are over a 1 billion.
•Cisco has grown from two employees with one product in 1984 to more than 63,000 people today in 200 offices worldwide with 50 product lines.
•Cisco has been on the forefront of information technology for 25 years and posted fiscal year 2009 revenue of $36.1 billion.
•Cisco’s innovation is demonstrated in the company’s more than 7,000 patents issued worldwide to Cisco inventors and 9,000 patent applications currently pending.
•Cisco employees have logged nearly 1 million hours of volunteer service since 2001.
•As a global corporate citizen, Cisco, in the last 10 years, has contributed over $1 billion to education, social inclusion and economic development initiatives globally.