SAN JOSE, Calif. and ORRVILLE, Oh. -- Cisco Systems®, the leading supplier of networking equipment and Crisco® Oils and Shortenings, a spin-off from the J.M. Smucker Company, announced today the world's first merger between a fat-based-food-products company and a silicon-and-glass-fiber information technology hardware firm.
John Chambers, über-geek and Cisco Chief Executive Officer, is enthusiastic about the up side on the tech side. "Together we will produce the slickest hardware geekdom has ever seen," he said.
Experts from the food and food preparation industry, however, remain skeptical about the touted "synergy" of the deal.
"Different products, different markets, different supply chains. I don't see how this helps either of them," said Barry Halzer, an analyst for a leading consumer and retail market research firm, the NPD Group.
"Although high-fiber products have been hot in food consumables for a while, I personally am not sure how customers will respond to glass-fiber-enhanced foods. The food consumer is generally conservative, and people are really used to cellulose-fiber-based products. Maybe, just maybe, the techies will go for something this cutting-edge, and, historically, they have consumed a lot of partially hydrogenated-fat and lard-based foods," said Bailey Barnes, a food-industry analyst at the financial services conglomerate Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
Tech industry analysts were generally more positive in their outlook. "Cisco will provide the heft, the bulk if you will, needed to produce regular favorable earnings reports, while Crisco will grease the internal systems of both companies increasing higher product throughput," said JupiterResearch analyst Tom Dole.
Industry observers do think that the technical expertise that Crisco brought to bear to produce Simple Touch™ Sprays could help Cisco on some of its stickier human-machine interface problems. The Simple Touch Spray features an innovative "Click & Go" nozzle for its oil-dispensing products that eliminates the lid and allows for one-hand operation -- and generally leaves no sticky mess to clean up later.
"Similar solutions for Cisco router box interfaces could definitely help increase market share," said Joellene Wilcox, a Loehmann Brothers technical analyst.
One tech industry insider said he thinks such speculation is baseless. He said he's seen a similar cross-industry hybrid technology like this before. "I remember back in 1999 when Novartis tried to implement Lin-Lax X, their Ex-Lax-enhanced Linux boxes, to increase throughput on backbone routing. All they ever produced was a bunch of crap," said Uttam Kumar, a design engineer with Bharati-AirTel.
Wall Street adopted a wait-and-see attitude on the merger announcement with the new combined Cisco Slick Systems adding just 8 cents to close at 19.93.
Department of Corections
In this space, as well as cyberspace, I recently reported that prospective UNC athlete Michael McAdoo was former UNC athlete Bob McAdoo's nephew. One of my alert and knowledgeable readers -- thanks, Alan -- kindly and correctly corrected me.
Michael McAdoo was a UNC football player, and is not, by any known report, related to former UNC basketball player Bob McAdoo. Michael McAdoo is one of seven North Carolina football players who missed the entire 2010 season, having had his eligibility permanently stripped in November for receiving a little over $100 in impermissible benefits and too much help on a single paper. McAdoo's family continues, however, to fight to have Michael's eligibility restored in time to play the 2011 season.
James McAdoo is the highly touted UNC basketball recruit. It also turns out that James is not, as has been often reported, Bob McAdoo's nephew either. While James is related to former Tar Heel Bob McAdoo, who played one season at North Carolina, and led the 1972 team to a Final Four berth before "going pro early," he is not Bob's nephew.
As reported in the Raleigh News and Observer, "I call him my uncle, but he's really my dad's second or third cousin," James McAdoo said.
But speaking of "going early," James was far enough ahead academically last year that he could have graduated high school a year early by taking a summer-school course in 2010, and then he could have played for the Tar Heels this past season. He and his parents gave the matter thought, but he decided to stay at Norfolk Christian and graduate from high school as scheduled.
"I've never regretted that," McAdoo said. "It's really been fun being a kid. People say your senior year is one of the best of your life, and I know that's true now."
Tar Heel fans can only hope that he and Harrison Barnes will be saying the same thing again in couple of years.
Gary D. Gaddy, a consumer of Crisco consumables since the early 1950s, cruises the Internet on Cisco supplied hardware daily.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday April 29, 2011.
Copyright 2011 Gary D. Gaddy