Cisco strengthens Spark meetings management with Worklife acquisition

Cisco announced today that it was acquiring Worklife, a member of the  Y Combinator winter 2015 class, for an undisclosed sum.

Worklife was founded with the idea of improving online meetings, something that Cisco has been working on for years. It of course owns WebEx and has been trying to enhance that experience in recent years with Cisco Spark. Cisco intends to add the Worklife team to the Spark team and try to bring their meeting wisdom to bear on the project.

The idea behind Worklife is to keep the meeting on track by providing an agenda ahead of time that keeps people focused — or at least that’s the stated goal. There is also on-screen clock showing exactly how much time is left in the meeting (before you can back to real work) and you can create a record of the meeting and distribute it to participants afterward.

Nothing earth-shattering here, but it’s an attempt at least to  bring some digital order to meetings and it aligns with what Cisco has been trying to do with Spark. “With the Worklife team onboard, we see an opportunity to build on the virtual meeting experience that the Cisco Spark platform currently provides, and enhance meeting productivity across the board,” Cisco senior vice president for corporate business development Rob Salvagno wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.

Cisco is a company in transition as it watches its long-standing networking hardware business get undercut, but it has a substantial amount of cash on-hand to make whatever purchases it needs. It seems in the build-buy balance, this type of functionality could have been built, but when you have over $60 billion in the bank, you can just as easily go buy — and that’s what Cisco has done here.

Cisco plans to continue to offer the Worklife product as a stand-alone free service for now, perhaps trying to use the freemium model to stoke interest and drive enterprise customers into the Spark ecosystem.

Cisco acquired Synata last March to bring advanced search to Spark, so this is not the first time it has bought a small company to try and bring a distinct service to the platform.

Worklife, which is based in San Francisco, was started in 2014 and had raised just over a million dollars, according to Crunchbase.