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Cisco to acquire Socio Labs for Webex event hosting

Cisco plans to pair Socio Labs technology with its Webex video conferencing and Slido audience engagement tools. Cisco expects to close the acquisition this year.

Cisco announced plans to acquire Socio Labs to incorporate the company's event technology in Webex to accommodate trade shows and conferences with both virtual and in-person attendees.

The company announced the acquisition Wednesday, saying the purchase improves Webex's ability to host events in person, online or in a combination of the two. Cisco did not disclose terms of the deal but expects to complete it later this year. After the acquisition, Socio employees will join the Webex Customer Experience team.

Socio offers services for both live and virtual events. The company's virtual suite of products handles attendee registration, video streaming and post-event analytics. For in-person meetings, Socio can create customized event apps, provide content for conference-hall screens, help participants network, and check attendees in and out of events.

Javed Khan, vice president and general manager, Cisco collaboration divisionJaved Khan

Cisco executive Javed Khan wrote in a blog post that the company expects post-pandemic conferences to accommodate both in-person and remote attendees. Ensuring the two groups can participate equally will be a challenge for remote hosts, Khan said. Also, using multiple products will make planning events more complex.

In a statement, Socio CEO Yarkin Sakucoglu said the acquisition lets organizers work with one vendor for both the in-person and virtual components of an event. He said Socio's platform will continue as a standalone product, but it will have the benefit of Cisco's product integrations.

"Teaming up with Cisco gives us an amazing opportunity to apply our technology and expertise at an outstanding scale," he said.

Cisco's recent purchase of Slido will also improve its event-hosting capabilities, Khan said. Slido's technology can engage conference audiences through polling, trivia and Q&A capabilities.

Cisco's competitors have improved their event-hosting capabilities as well. Microsoft revamped webinars in its Teams video conferencing platform this week. The changes allow hosts to register attendees, send notifications and transfer participant data to customer relationship management software. The company also increased the number of people who can view and participate in the webinars.

Socio is Cisco's second acquisition announcement in two days. On Tuesday, the company announced plans to buy Sedona Systems to bolster network speeds to handle future uses, like augmented and virtual reality.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily NewsWalpole TimesSharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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