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Cisco CEO Gets Drive-By "Dear John" Letter

"I think we should see other people."

A snarky inside joke about corporate videoconferencing is about to become a billboard greeting drivers coming into San Francisco.

Joining a growing fleet of billboards aimed at specific in-the-know technocrat populations, the 20 x 50-feet sign will hang over 8th Street in San Francisco and, though it won’t make sense to most drivers, will be shockingly pointed to anyone working in IT.

In faux-handwritten scrawl, it reads: “Dear John, I think we should SEE other people. I’m tired of web conferencing. Your (Web) EX.”

The John in question is Cisco CEO John Chambers. The product is a cloud videoconferencing software put out by Blue Jeans Network that is said to bypass the need for Cisco’s WebEx and up to quarter-million-dollar “bridges,” or pieces of hardware that connect phone and video lines.

The implication is that people are breaking up with Cisco videoconferencing to get with Blue Jeans Network, which reported 500 percent year-on-year growth between 2012 and 2013. The Cisco technology is targeted for live presentations, while Blue Jeans Network is geared more for multiple talking heads — and in today’s egalitarian workplace, we want more talking heads, right?

“People want a technology where they can see other people, which also is a very common breakup line,” said Stu Aaron, chief commercial officer of Blue Jeans Network, on a video call from his living room. “The billboard is, to our knowledge, the world’s first ‘Dear John’ billboard.”

“I’m coming to the bridge to the joke now,” Aaron said, laughing a little, before describing the maintenance required for a desktop-conference bridge device.

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