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Home > Learn More > Tech > The History of Cisco

The History of Cisco

Cisco Systems, Inc. is a multinational corporation with over  66,000 employees with annual revenue of US$39 billion as of 2008. Their Headquarters are in San Jose, Ca., Cisco Systems designs and sells communications and networking technology as well as services. Sandy Lerner and Len Bosack, a married couple who worked as computer operations staff for Stanford University, joined by Richard Troiano, began Cisco Systems in 1984. Lerner moved on to a director’s position for computer services at Schlumberger, going full time with Cisco in 1987.

Cisco’s name is derived from the city San Francisco. Cisco may not be the first company to sell commercial routers supporting many network protocols, but today Cisco's routers are used to deliver a magnitude of technologies through corporate, enterprise and service provider networks. The company was listed in the Nasdaq stock exchange in 1990. Lerner was subsequently fired because of this and Bosack quit the company but not before receiving $200 million. The majority of these profits were given to charities.

Cisco obtained a range of companies to enlist talent and innovation. A few acquisitions, like Stratacom, were the largest deals ever when they occurred. While the Internet boom was happening in 1999, the company obtained Cerent Corp., a start-up company in Petaluma, California, for around seven billion dollars. It was the most costly acquisition achieved by Cisco until then. Since that time, only Cisco's acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta has been larger. Not all acquisition is an achievement but Cisco has more often succeeded in integrating and expanding the revenue of its acquisitions than its competitors. Several companies have grown into $1 billion plus business units for Cisco.

In March 2000, at the apex of the dot-com craze, Cisco was by far the most valued company worldwide, with a market capitalization of more than $500 billion. CISCO has been voted stock of the decade on NASDAQ. Cisco began marketing technology, especially its software, more adamantly to long distance telephone companies, and due to the deregulation of U.S telephone carriers the companies were able to provide more types of data communications services and products. A prime example of this was when Cisco entered a marketing agreement with MCI International to integrate Cisco’s routers for the end to end data networks over telephone lines. Bell Atlantic Group, U.S. West Information Systems Inc. and Cisco entered new distribution agreements in 1992. In 1993 Cisco signed marketing agreements with Pacific Bell. This is how Cisco became a preferred router supplier for the company’s network systems.

Cisco also began contracting with European telecommunications companies at about this time. British Telecom became an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) client for all of Cisco's products. Other European telecommunications companies that entered into OEM relationships with Cisco were Alcatel of France and Siemens A.G. of Germany. Cisco made other alliances to align itself in the growing internet working market. Reaching out to less technical clients, Cisco began a joint agreement with Microsoft Corporation to market Cisco's first PC-based router card coupled with Microsoft's Windows NT Advanced Server networking software through the Microsoft marketing channels and products. By early 2000, Cisco was the third most valuable company in the entire world, ranking just behind Microsoft and General Electric Company. There was a short time in March of 2000 when Cisco actually ranked as the most valuable company worldwide, reaching a total market capitalization of $555 billion.


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