Cisco wants Webex to be as ‘cool’ as Zoom, and poached this top executive from Box to lead the way: ‘Coolness is a reflection of how delightful the experience is’ (CSCO)

Cisco Senior Vice President Jeetu Patel

Summary List Placement

The pandemic, which forced millions to work and study from home, turned Zoom, the wildly successful video conferencing platform, into a household name — and a tech titan in its own right, now valued at almost $159 billion.

Cisco’s Webex also saw a spike in traffic during the crisis, but the 25-year-old platform is grappling with the view that it’s the stodgy, uncool alternative to its hip young rival. That’s what Jeetu Patel, whom Cisco poached from Box in August to lead its Webex team, hopes to change.

Patel, who was Box’s chief product officer and chief strategy officer who is now Cisco’s senior vice president for applications, said his game plan for making Webex cool is pretty straightforward: “To build a product that people love so much that they’re willing to talk about it to their friends and family.”

“Coolness is a reflection of how delightful the experience is,” he told Business Insider.

Patel said he was initially reluctant to join Cisco. “I had gotten a call from [Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins], saying, ‘Hey, we are looking for someone who can help us more to a SaaS (software-as-a-service) based business model,” he said. 

Like other traditional enterprise tech companies, Cisco, which is dominant in the networking market, has been adapting to the rise of the enterprise cloud. “I know nothing about the networking side of the house,” he said. “That’s not my expertise, and so I’m probably the wrong guy.”

But Patel was drawn to Cisco’s heightened focus on cloud software applications, including in the fast growing market for video conferencing and collaboration tools.

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“We’re in our first inning of the kinds of things that you could do to make this a meaningfully more productive way to go out and reimagine how work can be done,” he said. “That was what got me excited.”

Cisco’s strategy is to make sure that Webex delivers ‘innovation on a regular basis’

Webex will be Patel’s key focus. Launched in 1995, it emerged as one of the leading enterprise video conferencing platforms during the dot-com boom. Cisco acquired the company in 2007. 

Like other platforms, led by Zoom, Webex saw a surge in demand as a result of the sharp pivot to remote work, recently recording half a billion meeting participants a month, a threefold year-over-year jump.

Here’s an ironic twist: Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan, actually served as vice president of engineering at Webex and played a pivotal role in its early development. He stayed in the same a role when Cisco acquired the company before leaving in 2011 to launch Zoom.

Now, it’s Zoom that quickly became the star videoconferencing tool, with 300 million meeting participants (different from daily active users, which the company has not recently shared) daily. This week, the company introduced a new feature called OnZoom for hosting online events, both free and paid. 

In terms of the competition, Patel stressed that innovation will be key to Webex’s success and growth, saying you need to “make sure that you surprise people with capabilities and…innovation on a …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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