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Cisco acquires Socio Labs to bolster Webex’s online event capabilities

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Cisco Systems Inc. today announced plans to acquire Socio Labs Inc., a venture-backed startup that provides software for organizing virtual conferences and managing related tasks such as ticket sales. 

The deal is expected to close by July 25. Cisco plans to use Socio Labs’ software to enhance its Webex videoconferencing service’s features for hosting online events.

In the bigger picture, the deal will also advance the network equipment maker’s ongoing effort to make software and subscriptions a larger part of its business. 

Since launching in 2016, Socio Labs has built up a customer base that includes the likes of Google LLC, Microsoft Corp. and Stanford University, among other big names. The startup’s platform is marketed as a one-stop-shop toolkit that allows event teams to manage the core aspects of organizing a virtual conference in one place.

Socio Labs provides design tools for creating event registration webpages and ticket purchase menus. The platform enables companies to customize a conference’s registration page in various ways, such as by adding their corporate branding or offering ticket discounts to attendees if they sign up early.

For the conference itself, companies can use an event streaming app provided by Socio Labs to broadcast presentations. As with its tools for designing registration pages, the startup offers an array of customization features. Companies can add their corporate logo to the event app’s interface, display sponsors and hold virtual exhibits. There are also capabilities that enable marketers to send promotions and educational resources to attendees after an event is over. 

Cisco will integrate Socio Labs’ technology with Webex. The company says that the software will make it easier for customers to organize not only online conferences, but also hybrid events that combine live presentations with virtual content. Socio Labs has a number of features that lend themselves to hybrid events, including a push notification system that marketers can use to send promotions to both in-person and virtual attendees.

The acquisition will complement the technology that Cisco obtained through another recent startup deal, the December purchase of Slido s.r.o. Slido developed a platform for incorporating interactive content such as quizzes and polls into virtual events. By folding features from Socio Labs and Slido into Webex, Cisco hopes to turn the service into an all-encompassing virtual event platform for managing everything from ticket sales to attendee outreach after a conference. 

Cisco didn’t disclose how much it’s paying for Socio Labs. The startup had raised $6.7 million in funding prior to the acquisition.

Webex is part of Cisco’s Applications group, which generated $1.35 billion in revenues last quarter. The group has a central role in the company’s ongoing effort to improve growth by refocusing its core business on recurring software and subscription sales. As part of the same effort, Cisco has invested in growing its cybersecurity business, which logged revenues of $822 million last quarter thanks to 10% year-over-year sales jump. 

Photo: Cisco

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