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Cisco’s John Chambers on ‘Star Trek,’ Dyslexia and the Importance of Failure

Under the shareholder and media microscope, Chambers plans to cut 6,000 jobs, while Goldman Sachs pressures him to move the company toward more software-driven networking and move away from hardware if it wants to survive.

John Chambers, chief executive and chairman of Cisco, the network- equipment company, has just beamed in for his interview. Appearing in high-definition on a large flat-screen TV in New York, in real life he is sitting in his San Jose, Calif., office, showing off the capabilities of one of his company’s videoconferencing products. “Fast-forward five years and you’re not going to know who you met in person and who you met through the technology,” he says, nearly life-size on his screen.

The product, a new version of a platform called TelePresence, is one of the latest initiatives that Mr. Chambers, 64, is launching at Cisco, which is known mainly for its networking technology. An enthusiastic salesman, he talks about its lowered price point (from $300,000 to $2,000) and the ability for people to go beyond Skype to have more lifelike virtual conversations.

“As video moves to the Internet, it’s time to have a ‘Star Trek’ experience,” he says, “And so I said to my engineering team: I want this to be like ‘Star Trek’ and I want to be like Scotty,” the engineer in the series.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

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