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Hey Cisco, Give Me the Flip Cam Business, OK?

@strukhoff at Twitter. I'll Get Back to You Over the Week-end

I was on the Number 2 (Green) line, going from People Square back to Guanglan Rd. on Shanghai's magnificent Metro subway system when I noticed an older, smaller man looking me over. It was December 2008. The train was packed with people, as always, but certainly not a fearful place.

The guy was probably just giving me the "Asian stare," something you encounter in many places from people who are somehow still not used to seeing foreigners.

I got caught in a no-man's land between two exits when my stop came, but managed to get off the train just as the doors closed behind me. Within seconds of getting off the train, I realized that my Flip cam was gone, pilfered from my left jacket pocket, no doubt by the fellow who had had such an interest in me.

Stupid is as Stupid Does
This is a comment more on my stupidity than on crime in Shanghai. The place feels very, very safe, except for squadrons of people driving their silent, electric scooters on the sidewalk. I was just careless. The Flip cam was still not available in China, and must have been a very tempting target.

Oh yes, forgot to mention, I was playing the role of a classic doosh by shooting video with it on the train, just prior to slipping it back in my pocket and drawing the withering stare from my older friend across the aisle.

Now Cisco has stolen any future I might have with my beloved Flip cam. I bought a new one after my return from Shanghai, bought one for a friend, never used mine enough, but am still trying to think of a device that I've enjoyed more for the past few decades.

How Big Is This Business?
I figure Cisco was selling about 1 million Flip cams a year, with maybe 20% of a growing market for this sort of product. It's probably a $200 million business (remember, retail price is not what Cisco gets). Seems about right with 550 employees. Maybe $400,000 per employee. Hard to determine profits when it's part of the Cisco Leviathan-but a little profitability would value this company at around 1X revenue, I think.

As I mentioned earlier, the vidcam on my Droid phone is terrible-shaky, crappy zoom control, no way to see what you're shooting if the sun is dimming the screen, a capricious latency in the "shoot" button because of Droid OS latency, and on and on. Horrible. I think the iPhone is really no better.

Let's Run the Numbers
So in the spirit of doing the right thing and keeping the Flip cam alive, I offer this modest proposal to Cisco's board of directors: sell the company to me. I don't have anywhere near the $590 million that you paid for it. I don't have $200 million either, nor do I have the energy to go around with a tin cup asking for this much.

I may not even have $590, depending on how the markets are doing. So guys, just give it to me. You've already written the whole thing off in your minds.

I'll pay you back from profits. You can have half of them. If the company grows at 10% a year for the next five years, you might get $100 million back, maybe $120 million. Who's going to give you a better deal than that? You're a public company, so tell me.

Give me the company, let me bring some people in who know how to market one of the coolest devices ever-it should be about as hard as marketing Santa Claus or chocolate candy-and you'll look like heroes. I'll put as many of those 550 people as I can back to work, and I'll give them vacation days.

You won't look like doofie corporate guys who had no business in consumer markets and are now killing off a great, popular product with all the charm of Cruella DaVil or Leonid Brezhnev.

Just @strukhoff on twitter, and I'll get back to you over the week-end. Let's do a deal.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.