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Cisco and Hollywood: Partnership that Makes Sense

Yesterday (and I must admit my source for all of this is Twitter feeds), my very good friend Ross Levinsohn was speaking at AlwaysOn OnHollywood. During his talk (again according to my #onhollywood Twitter feed), he mentioned that Hollywood needed to “wake up” or else Cisco, Google and Apple would eat their lunch. Now, during my time working for Cisco in the entertainment area, I have eaten my fair share of lunches (and even eaten some of them in Hollywood; and even some of them with Ross), I wanted to set the record straight on how Cisco is working with Hollywood.It is very simple really: We want Hollywood to make money. We think technology can be an enabler to create great consumer experiences, which leads to value. And, best of all, while I know what a good movie is, I don’t know how to MAKE a good movie. Creating and telling great stories is not part of Cisco’s DNA — that’s why we want to partner with media companies to help them with their core strength of telling great stories.All of this perhaps is not what Hollywood is used to hearing from tech companies, and perhaps you too are surprised, so let me explain: For Hollywood, the onset of digital content and broadband has created the greatest disruption to the entertainment business since the introduction of the movie camera. For many in Hollywood, this has meant radical changes to existing business models, increasing power in the hands of consumers, and the rise of widespread piracy. The digital disruption has NOT meant a decline in popularity of professional content. In fact, professional content is arguably more popular and more viewed that at any time in history. The challenge to date has been how to monetize the value of that digital content while maintaining the billion dollar core businesses that Hollywood needs to fund the next generation of content development. (aka NBC CEO Jeff Zucker’s famous conundrum of transitioning from analog dollars to digital pennies.) As Cisco’s Chairman and CEO John Chambers is fond of saying, the time Cisco enters a market is when that market is in disruption. The disruption in Hollywood offers us a real opportunity to add value to this market at the same time that we create new opportunities for Cisco. Cisco wants to partner with Hollywood across our product lines — from the data center where Cisco can help build the most powerful and efficient data centers to house content, through our core networking products, to consumer access points (with either a set top box or a Linksys by Cisco router) and ultimately to the end device (either the recently announced intent to acquire the makers of the Flip video camera or the whole home audio system). All of these efforts are designed to help Hollywood, and consumers, through the digital transition.In addition to the more traditional Cisco efforts, over the last 2 years I have devoted my time to understanding the unique challenges media companies face online, and building the Cisco Eos platform to address those pain points. Cisco Eos is intended to be the platform of record for media companies, allowing them to build multiple, interactive web properties for their audiences, while retaining access to the data about how the audience is interacting with their content and brands. We believe that this approach can simultaneously help media companies grow revenues / cut costs, and provide a more compelling online experience for consumers.So, no metaphorical lunch eating going on, in Hollywood or otherwise. Ross, I look forward to our next one though!

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