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Cisco Borgs WebEx

$3.2bn conferencing play

Security for virtualized datacentres

Cisco is to acquire web conferencing leader WebEx, the companies announced in a joint release today.

Cisco will pay $3.2bn, though WebEx has $300m cash in the bank, so the real cost is nearer $2.9bn.

WebEx has technology to manage online conferences; sharing slides and streaming content from a presenter to an audience, as well as managing attendance and allowing questions to be sent back to the presenter.

WebEx also provides services for companies such as BT Conferencing, Salesforce.com, and America Online. Though largely used by US companies, the technology allows people around the world to experience the same conference - right down to making attendees select a seat and indicate when they're comfortable and ready to start.

For Cisco the deal is part of its move up the value chain, from a company selling the anonymous grey boxes so essential to modern networking, to one providing goods and services direct to companies and their employees. ®

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