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Cisco Acquires Social Networks Company, Why?

VentureBeat seems to understand why Cisco just acquired Five Across, a San Francisco company that helps companies build their own social networks. Unfortunately, I’m having a had time believing this is a good decision.

The move is understandable, though. Based on conversations with three or four different Cisco executives in recent months, it is clear Cisco sees social networking and the wider Web 2.0 phenomenon as ways to drive Internet traffic, and thus traffic over their routers and other networking gear – and, it follows, more revenue for Cisco.

So, Cisco plans to build social networks for its clients in the hope that they’ll then need lots of expensive routers and switches. Ok, I can see that, but why would you buy into an industry you know nothing about? Why take the risk? Surely you could just partner with a company and let them have the headache of building out the social networks. Maybe Five Across sold for peanuts, but more likely some Cisco exec got a little too wrapped up in his Facebook profile and thought it would help Cisco play with the cool kids. Meanwhile, let’s go ahead and throw up an annoying splash page – Googlebot and visitors just love those! ;-)