Cisco Buys Network Equipment Maker Jasper, as Companies Look to Boost Cloud Services

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Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), the largest maker of networking equipment, said it will acquire closely held Jasper Technologies Inc. for $1.4 billion, bolstering its offerings in the growing market for technology that lets people manage devices like jet engines and vending machines over the Internet.

Jasper’s products let customers connect appliances, electronics and other products over cellular networks, then manage them through software. Cisco will pay cash and assumed equity awards plus additional incentives, the San Jose, California-based company said in a statement Wednesday.

In other recent middle market technology deals: Evolve IP bought APT Inc.; PTC Inc. (Nasdaq: PTC) is adding Kepware; and TA Associates is buying StorageCraft Technology Corp.

Under Chief Executive Officer Chuck Robbins, Cisco is working to extend its reach beyond corporate networking as more kinds of devices and products -- from refrigerators and thermostats to industrial equipment -- become capable of linking to the Web, giving them new functionality and allowing them to be controlled in new ways. This market, called the Internet of Things, will create billions of new connections that Cisco technology can help build, secure and manage, Robbins has said.

“Cisco sees IoT as both a top priority for the company as well as a massive market opportunity,” said Rob Salvagno, vice president of corporate development at Cisco.

Jasper CEO Jahangir Mohammed will join Cisco to run the new IoT Software Business Unit, Cisco said. The closely held company has more than 3,500 corporate customers worldwide.

Jasper’s software is already in use by Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., enabling users to remotely unlock doors, start the engine or call emergency roadside assistance. Inc.’s Kindle electronic readers use Jasper software to get e- books delivered over the Internet, and Heineken NV uses it to monitor beer quality and keg levels. General Electric Co. jet engines connected via the technology deliver performance data to maintenance engineers on the ground, reducing costs, according to Jasper’s website.

Robbins, who took over from John Chambers last year, is looking to rekindle sales growth at Cisco. While the equipment maker hasn’t struggled as much as rivals such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise and International Business Machines Corp. as they all grapple with the industrywide shift to cloud computing, Cisco’s growth has slowed. From 2000 to 2010, the networking pioneer averaged 13 percent annual sales growth. Since then, gains have averaged about 4 percent.

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