Cisco: Early if not Elegant (A)
Cisco Systems's company strategy was acquire, acquire, acquire during the 1990s. Along the way the firm tailored an integration process unique to each acquisition that Cisco consumed. From the day the intended purchase was announced, human resources and business development teams traveled to the acquired company's headquarters to familiarize themselves with the new acquisition. The day after the deal closed, the human resources arm of the business development department hit the firm with tailor-made orientation programs. Cisco's approach had worked well between 1994 and 2000 with over 70 acquisitions. By 2001, Cisco's buying spree slowed and acquisitions dropped to only two that year, causing public speculation that the firm had over-shopped. Yet in early 2002 John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, announced he still intended to acquire eight or ten companies that year. What new post-merger integration challenges would the firm face? This case provides an opportunity to examine Cisco's post-merger integration (PMI) strategy that takes place in a fast time period in order to achieve cost savings, high earnings, and an integrated culture. Students will discover how Cisco realizes value from its acquisitions and the role of executives in the acquired companies. They will also be challenged to think about how Cisco's PMI strategy reflects their corporate strategy and culture.