Category Archives: News

How to Replace Your Cable Modem and Save Money

How to Replace and Install a Cable Modem and Save Money

As anyone with cable internet knows companies charge a rental fee on cable modems, which most pay since they often think it is too hard to replace it with their own.
 
Replacing a cable modem is a easy task that most anyone one can do and save on the monthly rental fee.
 
The fees can range from $5-$10 dollars a month which when added up over a year or more and can add up quickly.
 
I recently replaced my cable modem with my ISP and the steps were simple. I had my new modem installed and running in less than 10 minutes.

Steps to Replacing Your Cable Modem


1…
The first step is to buy a new cable modem.
 
DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) is the standard used by cable companies to talk to a modem.
 
The newest standard is DOCSIS 3.1 which was release in October 2013. Most all cable companies use DOCSIS 3.0.
 
DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 are backward compatible with earlier versions.
 
So even if your cable company is still using the old DOCSIS 2.0 standard a new DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem will work.
 
I bought the ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem.
How to Replace Your Cable Modem and Save Money
 
Here it is on Amazon.

 
There are cheaper units if your on a budget and more expensive top-end units that come with more features such as a built-in router.
 
I had recently bought a new 802.11ac router so I decided on the ARRIS SURFboard since it is a good mid-range unit.
 
2…
Next write down the phone number for your cable company tech support line to be able to activate the new unit.
 
They will need the MAC address labeled on the router to activate it once it is hooked up.
 
Some companies have a activation page to enter the router MAC address but calling their tech support line may be easier. Especially since you may not have a internet connection during setup.
 
3…
Everything needs to be plugged in before calling in the new activation Mac address.
How to Replace Your Cable Modem
The cable line simply screws onto its port.
 
The Ethernet line goes to your router which transmits to all your devices.
 
4…
After everything is plugged in call in your new Mac address to activate the new modem.
 
Once they have the new Mac address the new modem will be online.
 
The router will also need to be reset to get a new IP address.
 
Summary
Setting up a new cable modem is a easy task and a good way to save on cost long term.
 
Deciding on which modem to buy will be the hardest part since there are many available.
 
Depending on your internet service provider speeds a top end modem may not help with faster transfers.
 
For example if your speed is 50Mbps a new modem that can transfer at 500Mbps will never be maxed out and a cheaper one bought.
 
If you have a older router buying a combo modem/router is also a option which may help with a faster connection.
 
802.11ac is a WiFi protocol introduced in 2013 that has high speed data transfers.
 
Everyone one will have a different setup to fit their internet environment. Simply be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to see which modem is a good fit for you.
 
How ever your internet is setup replacing the rental fee from your provider is a good way to lower cost.
 

 
 

 
 

List of Best WiFi Names We Have Seen

List of Best WiFi Names

Looking for a funny or different WiFi password to mess with your neighbors, roommates, or friends we thought we would make a list of the best WiFi SSID names we have seen. Do You have a good WiFi name? Let us know in the comment below.
 
PressCtrlAltDeleteToLogOn
 
YourBabyIsReallyUgly
 
TheWireless-GSpot
 
GuysPleaseStopFighting
 
ImUnderYouBed
 
SkynetGlobalDefense
 
MyNeighborsSuck
 
FBISurveillance
 
PleaseMoveAwayGary
 
TellYourWifiSaidHi
 
MrBurnsWiFiSignalExcellent
 
WeHaveViruses
 
RouterIBarelyKnowHer
 
TheSilenceoftheLANS
 
LANibalLecter
 
HulkHogLAN
 
MachoManLANdySavage
 
UncleTouchysNakedPuzzleBasement
 
Password:12345
 
PayYourHalfOfWiFiBill
 
GrowHouse
 
WeCanHearYouHavingSex
 
Batcave
 
AOLDialup
 
PasswordIsTaco
 
LetsGetRouty
 
HideYoKidsHideYoWiFi
 
ThisIsMyWiFi
 
PasswordWiFi
 
WinternetIsComing
 
PrettyFlyforaWifi
 
ThereIsNoWifiHere_GoAway
 
SeriesOfTubes
 
MinistryofMuggleDevices
 
DesperateHouseWiFi
 
AintNoBodyGotTimeForThat

What is the Best Wireless Router With Good Range?

What is the Best Wireless Router With Good Range

Long gone are the days when a wireless router was a luxury item and is now something everyone needs to keep themselves connected.
 
Unfortunately some routers are not good with range while other do a much better job.
 
Using a WiFi booster or extender is always a option and can be a good way to get the coverage you need.
 
Getting good range out of any router will always depend on the wireless environment it is in and barriers blocking the signal.
 
With that said some do a much better job than others with better technology and larger antennas. So lets take a look at two of our picks for routers that are good with distance.
 
As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to be sure a unit is the right fit for you.
 

Our Picks for Best Wireless Routers With Good Range

 

In most WiFi routers, the signal amplifiers are typically found on the actual motherboard of the unit. This has been the norm for quite a while, but NETGEAR decided to shake things up with the Nighthawk X8 by placing these amplifiers on top of the antennas (of which there are four for unprecedented range and coverage throughout your home).
 
NETGEAR calls this system “Active Antennas”, and it’s an exclusive industry first setup. By placing the WiFi amplifiers on top of the antennas, the X8 is capable of delivering a noticeably stronger and cleaner signal for all of your WiFi-connected devices.
What is the Best Wireless Router With Good Range 2016
All of this technology comes together to deliver unparalleled coverage throughout your home, no matter how big or how many stories it may have.
 
The Nighthawk X8 also packs in Tri-Band WiFi technology to help mitigate all of the connections your router is managing. With so many bands to take advantage of, the X8 automatically connects your device to the fastest band available at the time, which means that you get the fastest speeds possible.
 
Combine this with a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, makes the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 one of our picks for the best routers with good range.
 
 
…….

There is no doubt that the Nighthawk X8 is an extremely powerful router, but if you want to see what a high-end router will get you, look no further than the ASUS RT-AC5300.
 
The ASUS router doubles the amount of antennas that the NETGEAR model has for an antenna total of 8.
What is the Best Wireless Router With Good Distance
ASUS’s 4T4R system that’s implemented into the router means that four antennas are receiving wireless signals from your devices while the other four antennas are transmitting the wireless Internet signals to your devices.
 
Thanks to this system, both WiFi range and signal stability are drastically improved which results in superb coverage throughout your home.
 
And if that wasn’t enough for you, ASUS has also bundled in their AiRadar beamforming. AiRadar helps to focus the WiFi signal from your router even more to ensure that your WiFi connection is as strong and clear as possible.
Best WiFi Wireless Router With Good Range 2016
Just like the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8, the ASUS RT-AC5300 also features a Tri-Band setup. ASUS also uses a similar technology to manage which devices are connected to which bands via their Smart Connect feature.
 
Smart Connect scans your home network to see what kind of traffic is currently active. By analyzing your gadgets speed, load, and signal strength, Smart Connect is able to swap your connection to the AC-5300 2.4GHz, or one of the dual 5GHz bands on the fly to help deliver the best possible connection to your device.
Best Wireless Router With Good Range 2016
Along with bringing you faster speeds, this system is also beneficial when working with multiple devices in a larger house.
 
Also present on both the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 and the ASUS RT-AC5300 is MU-MIMO Ready technology. MU-MIMO-enabled routers are able to send compatible devices their own private full-speed WiFi connection.
 
Typically, when you have multiple devices connected to a router at one time, you are sharing one connection. When this happens your speeds slow down and the range of your connection decreases as more devices join your network. However, when each MU-MIMO compatible devices has its very own connection, it keeps all of your other connections fast and strong.
 
 
Summary
While it may be possible to cheap out with some tech gadgets, you really do get what you pay for when it comes to WiFi routers. It can be difficult to know exactly what to look for when it comes time to shop, and requiring one with excellent range when you have a large home can make the buying process even more difficult.
 
Hopefully this article will help give you have a better idea of what’s out there and what to look for when making your purchasing decision.
 
While there are hundreds upon hundreds of other competing routers out there, both the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 and ASUS RT-AC5300 deliver blazing fast speeds and uncompromised range.
 
If you’re looking to get excellent coverage throughout your house, want extremely fast speeds, but are still on a bit of a budget, I believe that the NETGEAR is one of your best options. However, if you budget allows for a bit of wiggle room and you want a router with speed, range, and some extra bells and whistles, than you may want to go with the ASUS.
 
At the end of the day, both of these are very comparable routers and are sure to bring excellent coverage and signal strength to your home WiFi network.
 
 

Our Picks for Best Travel Router WiFi Hotspot

Our Picks for Best Travel Router WiFi Hotspot 2016
Portable travel routers where introduced a few years ago and quickly become very popular.
 
They can do many things depending on the scenario from sharing files to sharing a internet connection.
 
For example a travel router with built-in storage can stream movies or music to multiple devices in a vehicle while moving.
 
This helps keep passengers busy even when no cell signal can be received.
 
They also can be setup to quickly backup a smartphones files and stored away until you get home.
 
Managing wireless signals for many devices while on-the-go is also a feature most mobile routers have.
 

Here is Our Picks for Best Travel Routers

 
As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for you.
 
…….

HooToo makes several nice travel routers that are very popular.
 
Some of the features include backing up data from a phone such as pictures wirelessly, streaming movies or music that has been copied to it, emergency charging for phones or other small electronics.
Best Travel Router WiFi Hotspot 2016
 
HoToo travel routers can broadcast a WiFi signal once plugged into a Ethernet cable, or be used in router mode and bridge mode.
HooToo TripMate Sith Portable Router, Charger, Media Streaming Device HT-TM05
With the many nice features HooToo offers there is no doubt many who can benefit from their low cost units.
 
…….

TP-LINK also makes travel routers with the TL-WR810N being one of them.
The TL-WR810N is built mainly to connect to WiFi signals.
 
It has many modes it can operate in depending on the situation.
 
Even though it is mainly built for WiFi it has a USB port that a external drive can plug into and share files.
 
This means pictures can be shared or movies and music streamed from the device while moving in a car.
 
The is no built-in storage so a external flash drive or Hard drive will need to be used.
 
…….

This small unit the Trek N300 is built by Netgear and is built to manage many different WiFi scenarios while travailing.
 
For example one feature is to use a single hotel/motel internet connection and allow many devices to share it at the same time.
Best Travel Router WiFi
 
Is can also be a WiFi bridge, extender, access point, hotspot, or basically any WiFi configuration you can think of.
Best Travel Router 2016
 
There is no built-in storage with it built to manage the many WiFi scenarios a traveler can run into.
 
The Trek N300 is the most costly unit on our list but is built by Netgear which is a well known name in the router world.
 
 
Summary
Picking a good travel router, like any device, comes down to what is the best fit for you.
 
If your main goal is to stream videos to the kids than getting a unit with built in storage and expandable external storage is a good idea.
 
If you want to manage your WiFi signals than a unit with more wireless features the better.
 
How easy the device is to use should also be taken into consideration.
 
Prices on the units do vary along with their capability so reading the reviews and features of different units is the best way to decide on the right one.
 
 

 

Our Picks for Best Wireless Mobile WiFi Hotspot Devices

Best Wireless Mobile WiFi Hotspot Devices  2016

There is a big variety of mobile WiFi hotspot devices that depends on the wireless setup being used.
 
Some devices use a cell phone service such a Verizon or T-mobile to create a connection to the internet.
 
Others use a existing wireless signal and can boost it, extend it, or even turn a wired connection into a wireless hotspot.
 
Lets take a look at a few of these WiFi devices.
 
Our Picks for Best Wireless Mobile WiFi Hotspot Devices
 
HooToo Wireless Travel Router, USB Port, High Performance- TripMate Nano (Not a Hotspot)

The HooToo is a portable router that has many functions.
 
First it can be used as a storage device to backup or share your files from your iPhone or Android. It does this by using a SD-Card or Flash drive that plugs into it. This is a plus for many iPhone users that have no way to expand storage on their phone.
 
It can also be used as a hotspot in two ways. A wired connection can be turned into a hotspot or a WiFi signal extended including a cell phone.
Best Wireless Mobile WiFi Hotspot Devices
 
It basically boost a existing internet connection that is available and allows multiple connections.
 
The HooToo as many functions and is great mobile device from streaming movies to portable devices or boosting a WiFi signal.
 
 
TP-Link N150 Wireless Nano Travel Router with Range Extender/Access Point/Client/Bridge Modes (TL-WR702N)

The TP-LINK TL-WR702N is similar to the Hootoo devices and is a portable travel router.
 
It can create a secure WiFi hotspot from a cell phone or wired source.
Top Wireless Mobile WiFi Hotspot Devices
 
It has many modes for WiFi including AP, Router, Bridge, Client and Repeater mode.
 
The TP-LINK TL-WR702N does many things to help with a WiFi signal depending on the need. From extending a signal to making a wired internet connection wireless.
 
 
Zte Verizon 890L 4G Lte Hotspot Modem Worldwide Use In Over 200 Countries Including Gsm Networks!

This Verizon WiFi modem can handle ten simultaneous connections.
 
It uses a SIM card, that must be bought in advance, the same a a Verizon cell phone.
 
This device may be good for those who have good Verizon cell service in their area and need a basic internet connection.
 
Their data plans are always changing so check their site for up-to-date information.
 
 
Summary
With the many different portable wireless setups there is not a one-size-fits all mobile hotspot device.
 
But with the many to choose from hopefully one will fit your setup.
 
As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to be sure the device is right for you.
 
 

How to Extend a Mobile Hotspot with a Portable Router

How to Extend a Mobile Hotspot with a Portable Router

Mobile hotspots are fantastic tools. These little gadgets grab onto networks, such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and then send that signal out to all of our WiFi-enabled devices so we can have WiFi access virtually anywhere that those carriers have coverage.

The overall speed and performance you get out of a mobile hotspot will ultimately depend on the model and make of your hotspot, but also how strongly covered your area is from the company that’s providing the connection.

Verizon and AT&T are the two biggest players here, but Sprint and T-Mobile have also been hard at work extending the range of their own networks. However, no matter which hotspot or service provider you decide to go with, owning a mobile hotspot can be an extremely convenient little gadget to own. That is, when they work.

Just like WiFi routers, the connection and signal strength of our mobile hotspots can often been considerably slower and weaker than we would like.

We want absolutely blazing fast speeds all the time, but in reality, we frequently face slowdowns and signals that don’t reach as far as we’d expect.

When we run into a situation like this, what can we do?

One possible option is to use a portable router to extend the range of your mobile hotspot.

What’s important to note here is that, when using a router to extend the range of your mobile hotspot connection, you want to make sure that it’s one of the portable variants.

Portable routers are just like the routers you have connected in your home or office, except for the fact that they’re battery powered and can be used anywhere.

Keep in mind that some of the wording may be specific to the brand of portable router you purchase, but the process will essentially be the same no matter what.

Step 1 – In your router menu, navigate over to the option that’s titled “Wireless”.

Step 2 – Click on the option called “Enable WDS Bridging” (Something important to keep in mind here is that not every router supports WDS/Bridging functionality. If that happens to be the case with your current router, you’ll need to purchase a different one.)

Step 3 – To display all of the connections that are within your range, select “Survey”.

Step 4 – After discovering the connection of your mobile hotspot, choose it.

Step 5 – Once chosen, enter the password for your mobile hotspot.

Step 6 – After your password has been entered, click the “Save” button. From here, you’ll see a messaging prompting you to select which channel you would like to use. At this point, click the option that says “Yes”. This will automatically select the proper channel you’ll want to use.

Step 7 – Following that, disable DHCP and then restart your portable router.

Step 8 – Boot up your portable router. Don’t worry if it takes a while to get going or doesn’t connect right away during this initial boot. You may need to restart it once more or possibly have to upgrade your router’s firmware to make sure everything’s working the way it should.

With all of these steps completed, you should now be able to further extend the range of your mobile hotspot. Keep in mind that, just like your hotspot, your portable router will also need to be charged every now and then. The TP-LINK model we mentioned in this article reported gets around 2 ½ to 3 hours of battery life on a single charge, so if you plan to use this thing for hours on end, you’ll want to make sure you keep a spare charger close by.

While that’s the primary way of extending the range of your mobile hotspot, there are a couple other ways to achieve this as well. While portable routers are great for extending the range of mobile hotspots that already have WiFi functionality built-in to them, they can also be great tools if you own a USB hotspot/modem. If you use one of these USB dongles for an Internet connection on your laptop or desktop, simply plug into the USB port of the portable hotspot and you’ll have a portable WiFi router on your hands! This can be great if you’ve been looking into upgrading your hotspot to one that supports WiFi, but you don’t necessarily want to throw down a lot of dough that would be required for said upgrade.

As we talked about in the beginning of this article, mobile hotspots are phenomenal tools. The ability to carry around a little gadget that sends off high-speed LTE signals wherever we may be is simply wondrous. However, we also get that it can be quite frustrating when these gadgets don’t work the way we expect them to. Thanks to the tips we talked about in today’s article, you now have ways to solve these problems when they arise. Portable routers are incredibly powerful, yet very underrated tools. And in the scenario we talked about today, they can be your best friend when you want to get some extra strength out of your mobile hotspot.

Our Picks for Best Portable WiFi Router for a Car When Traveling

best-portable-wifi-router-for-a-car-when-traveling

Going on long car trips can cause issues when there is no internet especially when one person has a movie/song file another wants to hear or watch.
 
Mass storing all your media files and then having your own traveling portable WiFi that shares all the data to any device is possible on the cheap.
 
These devices have different names such as portable router, traveling router, mobile router and so on.
 
Whatever name they go by the main thing to look for of any router that can share files in a vehicle, is its compatibility with multiple devices, storage capacity, and charge time.
 
Some of these mobile routers have many other features such as connecting to your home files when a internet connection is available, or even a VPN that secures your connection.
 
Everyone will have a different needs from a portable router such as someone traveling with children, streaming their own movies to their own devices can easily be done.
 
Someone who travels a lot for business may want more storage for data, access to home data, and security such as a VPN while doing so.
 
One size mobile router doesn’t fit all so lets look at our picks for best portable routers.
 
As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for you.
 

Our Picks for Best Portable WiFi Routers

 

TripMate makes many different styles of portable routers. The Titan is a follow up to their poplar Nano unit.
 
The Titan is a good router to add sharing data to a moving vehicle via mobile WiFi. It shares data by using a USB flash drive or Mirco Sdcard. It can also share WiFi in a hotel, secure communications, and connect to your home files.
 
 
…….

TP-LINK also has a few different portable routers available each with different features.
 
The TL-WR802N is a wireless-N unit that has a transfer rate of up-to 300Mbps.
 
A USB drive can be plugged into it allowing for multiple streams of music or videos to anyone in the car. If you have all your media on a computer at home they can be easily transfer to a external hard drive or flash drive and after plugging into the TL-WR802N shared with any one with-in range. It also can support Router, AP, Client, Repeater and WISP.
 
It is a low cost unit that has many features that many will find useful.
 
 
…….

This portable router has many features but its main feature is to share a 3G/4G mobile connection and boost the signal.
 
 
…….

This small device from Netgear is built to boost a WiFi signal in a variety of ways. Router mode, which turns an Ethernet connection into a private WiFi hotspot network. Extender mode which extends a WiFi signal. It also has Hotspot mode and Bridge mode.
 
 

Best Portable WiFi Router For a Car When Traveling

Our Picks for Best Kids Safe WiFi Routers with Parental Controls

our-picks-for-best-kids-safe-wifi-routers-with-parental-controls

These days the internet is a must have for any households and having control over a router to manage WiFi is a nice option.
 
A router can be setup in many ways to control a internet connection, from shutting it off to setting time limits.
 
If your a tech savvy person then your router may already have some features built-in which can be setup to manage WiFi in a home.
 
If your router does not have many management options, then there are several options that can help setup a wireless network with parental controls.
 

Our Picks for Best Kids Safe WiFi Routers with Parental Controls

The HomeHalo router comes with an app for easy management and control.
 
Some features include, setting time limits, blocking adult sites, and homework mode.
 
From blocking sites to controlling when the internet is to be used the HomeHalo has many nice features.
 
It comes with two external antennas for better range and communicating with multiple devices.
best-kids-safe-wifi-routers-with-parental-controls
 
The back has 4 Ethernet ports if needed along with a Wlan Ethernet port that plugs into your internet modem.
best-kids-safe-wifi-router
 
The app that is included comes with a lot of options to make changes on the fly.
best-kids-safe-wifi-routers-with-parental-controls-2017
 
 
…….

KoalaSafe is a small device that works with a app to control internet web sites access and usage.
 
It is small and seems more like a wireless access point than a router.
best-wifi-routers-with-parental-controls
While it could be used as the main router is is best to use the KoalaSafe as a second kid safe router.
 
Using the main router for adults with a set password the KoalaSafe can plug into it and than be controlled by a parent.
 
 
…….

This unit is a Cloud based solution that allows control from anywhere.
 
Features include, advanced filtering, scheduling, and pause the internet.
 
 
Summary
These days having control over your home WiFi network can be important especially when it comes to children.
 
There are a few ways to help manage the content they see from software blockers on their devices to child safe routers.
 
Time limits can be set so home work gets done or depending on the router blocking entire websites.
 
One thing to watch for is if a unit has a monthly fee to get certain features. Sometimes fees are added to be able to do some things which varies from manufacture-to-manufacture.
 
What fits one home may not fit another, so be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for you.
 

 

Named Data Networking team issues call for hacks

The Named Data Networking (NDN) project team has issued a Call for Hacks to take place at its 3rd NDN Hackathon, to be held on Nov. 4-5 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

The projects should be designed to advance the state of Named Data Networking, an emerging Internet architecture designed to better accommodate data and application access in an increasingly mobile world. Teams will have about 12 hours to work on their projects at the event.

Big name academic and vendor organizations such as Cisco and UCLA launched the NDN consortium back in 2014 to push the advanced networking architecture. A growing testbed network has been established for researchers to move NDN forward.

The NDN project team is active at conferences organized by big tech organizations such as IEEE and NIST, but will have its own NDNComm event next year on March 22-24 at the University of Memphis. An agenda for that meeting has not yet been distributed. A progress summary on the NDN Next Phase was issued in April.

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Cisco Founders Forum: One creative way to keep & energize talent

The tech industry brims with examples of bright entrepreneurs who have struck it big by selling their startups and then hightailing it out of those larger companies once contractually eligible so that they can pursue their next venture.

So what the heck is Matt Cutler still doing at Cisco three years after selling his mobile collaboration startup to the networking giant? Well, among other things, he’s teaching a bunch of his peers who have stayed at Cisco after having their own companies acquired — as well as any Cisco lifers who will listen — a thing or two about how to keep cranking out new ideas.

matt cutler cisco Cisco

Matt Cutler, Lead Evangelist for Cisco Cloud Collaboration Technologies, has big ideas on ideation.

“From where I sit, innovation is not just about what you do and what you have for technology, but it’s also how you do it,” says Cutler, who along with his wife and three kids moved from Massachusetts to California when Cisco bought Collaborate.com. “One of the obvious opportunities for Cisco to drive innovation is to incorporate modern workstyles and that includes design thinking.”

Cutler, whose entire 8-member Collaborate.com team remains at Cisco, now serves as director of product management within Cisco’s Spark cloud-based unified communications infrastructure team and is one of 46 members of the company’s little-known Founders Forum. This dynamic internal group, which formed two-and-a-half years ago, incents founders from many of the 193 companies Cisco has acquired to stick around for the benefit of Cisco, themselves and customers (See also: “Meet Cisco’s Founders Forum members”).

Cisco: Innovation from Anywhere

As a nearly $50 billion company, Cisco concedes the obvious – it’s not as nimble as the startups it consumes. One of the main ideas behind the Founders Forum is for Cisco to tap into the “entrepreneurial vigor” of those smaller companies, says Hilton Romanski, a 15-year Cisco veteran who serves as the company’s chief strategy officer and who chairs Founders Forum meetings (See also: “Inside the Strategy Team at Cisco”). “I can’t think of any other company that has dozens of CEOs to tap into for their knowledge or experience, and we do that on a regular basis,” the Cisco SVP says.

(I reached out to other acquisitive tech companies, including IBM and Microsoft, but neither got back to say whether they have any sort of Founders Forum-like operation.)

Given that Romanski manages a $2B venture capital investment portfolio and has been responsible for about $20 billion in acquisitions, his interest in making the most of Cisco’s buyouts is understandable. He’s quick to point out that about 1 in 5 members of Cisco’s population came to the company through buyouts.

Hilton Romanski Cisco

Cisco SVP & Chief Strategy Officer Hilton Romanski: “Our first and foremost priority is to keep amazing talent inside the company doing great things and to give them the materials and ideas to stay engaged and excited.”

“One thing that’s been true from the very beginning [at Cisco] is that we’ve thought about the potential for innovation and disruption coming from anywhere,” Romanski says, also citing the company’s Innovate Everywhere Challenge open to all employees. “So our approach has really been: Let’s continue to be very focused on build by partner and then more recently, focused on invest and co-develop as ways to continue to make sure we’re harnessing the most interesting innovations in the market.”

Romanski contends that one way Cisco has grown and thrived is by acquiring its way into new markets and strengthening its position in others. Some buyouts are more technology or platform based, such as the $1.4B Jasper Technologies IoT deal, whereas others, such as the recent Container X purchase, are more focused on bringing fresh blood and smarts into the organization.

The Founders Forum brings together for quarterly meetings at Cisco headquarters in San Jose the people who started many of the acquired companies. One basic thing Cisco wants to do at these meetings is get feedback on its buyouts.

“Where can we do things better from an acquisition perspective? How was the process for you and how can we improve this so we get better every time we bring awesome teams into the company so they want to stay,” Romanski says.

How Founders & Customers Benefit

Forum members get access to Cisco higher-ups at these meetings and also learn from one another, such as how to navigate Cisco. One lure for being acquired, beyond the immediate financial gain, is access to greater resources and bigger clients. Cisco is really trying to sell security startups on this, as the company aims to be the No. 1 player in the market.

 “As each team comes on board the next team sitting outside our walls is looking at this and saying, ‘Wow, that’s a really amazing team’,” Romanski says.

Who knows, maybe some of these founders will hit it off and form a new dream team at Cisco along the lines of its famed “MPLS” engineering group that repeatedly received funding to build spin-ins like Insieme.

Collaborate.com’s Cutler volunteered his services recently to lead a separate workshop for Forum members on ideation, and he says the 90-minute meeting resulted in a handful of action items, including the possibility of pulling together a global forum for internal Cisco developers (See also: “4 cool ideas hatched from Cisco ideation session”). Romanski foresees sharing ideation advice with Cisco’s enterprise customers, too.

Romanski says one way customers have already benefited from the Founders Forum is that leaders of SaaS vendors bought by Cisco have helped the company smooth integration of other as-a-service acquisitions into the fold even as Cisco overall tries to move to a more flexible consumption model for its enterprise customers and more predictable revenue stream to satisfy investors. “That’s historically very different from where our business has been and we’re very rapidly scaling our capability to deliver as-a-service and recurring revenue,” he says.

One example of this is that it took Cisco more than a year to make 2015 cloud security acquisition OpenDNS services available to customers under a recurring revenue model, but with its more recent buyout of cloud access security broker company CloudLock, Cisco was able to make services available almost immediately upon closing the deal.

While the Founders Forum should help Cisco retain the talents of many startup founders, Romanski knows Cisco won’t keep them all. The founders of prized acquisition Meraki, for example, left the company about two years after Cisco’s $1.2 billion buyout of that cloud-based networking outfit. But the next level of talent within Meraki has stayed and now leads the $1B run-rate business inside of Cisco, Romanski says.

Rod Randall, a former technology executive who is now in venture capital and private equity, says he thinks Cisco’s Founders Forum is a great idea. “During my time as a VC, I can’t remember even one of the founders that I backed that ever stayed post acquisition,” he says.

Having sold a networking company called Teleos to a larger company back in the 1990s, Randall saw first-hand how a founding management team can be stifled within the confines of a larger, acquiring company.

Founders’ “combination of energy, curiosity, boldness, and ego is often difficult to find in a corporate managerial chain of command,” Randall says.  “They are often the best communicators, seeing things not only as others do, but more importantly, as others do not.  These people are an enormously powerful resource, and resource network, which would be hugely beneficial if the acquiring company was able to keep and harness them… But therein lies the rub.  These founders are un-harnessable, by definition. A company can only keep them if they want to be kept…” 

By recognizing the talent it has acquired through the Founders Forum, Cisco is trying to do just that.

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