CISCO: Assembling the blocks to build social networks?

Brad Stone’s got a piece in the NYTimes today that says Cisco is going to buy, the alt/ Burning Man community that could have been MySpace but wasn’t.
Cisco bought FiveAcross, a server-side, templated tool and web services platform provider 2 weeks ago, for a rumored $25 million (which seems hard to believe).
When I heard Cisco’d bought Five Across, I laughed and said “This is going to save them millions in internal development costs.” (Cisco’s spending on vendors and components for their numerous web sites is legendary in the Valley and has fueled many new design firms.)
But it seems that wasn’t the point–servicing customers in a web solutions division is the point.
Stone says that BigCos are looking to embed their own social networks in their brands and products, much as TV Guide did last week with jumptheshark, and that BigCos will find it a better investment to play If we build it they will come with their own constructed communities than to place banner ads on MySpace and Facebook.
His article has a media-genic Marc Andresson/ Ning quote: ““The existing social networks are fantastic but they put users in a straitjacket. They are restrictive about what you can and can’t do, and they were not built to be flexible. They do not let people build and design their own worlds, which is the nature of what people want to do online,” and says Cisco’s Dan Scheinman is getting ready to give these services to customers (and goes on to quote Marc Canter and Paul Martino and other ex-Tribe folk.)
Susan sez: What goes around comes around (as services for bloggers, small biz and individual folk, other companies (not only Cisco) are linng up to provide equivalent, larger-scale support for media companies, large international businesses and so on.
The old hermeneutic Alistair Crowley axiom As above, so below (yes, I am feeling all former lit-major this morning) takes on new resonance when it’s applied to big companies trying to replicate what small companies (who have now also grown big) have done.
This may be the first time we have BigCos trying to mirror long tail individual expression to quite this degree–and it shows, once again, that the consumer owns the cards.

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  1. Marc Andreessen says:

    Hi Susan — thanks for the post and the mention — we completely agree that the people are in charge this time around…

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