The Download: Cisco CEO lobbies for corporate lower tax rate

By Stephen Overly
Monday, October 18, 2010

Cisco Systems chief executive John Chambers makes the cross-country trek to Washington several times each year to lobby government officials and meet customers on behalf of the networking and communication technology giant.

He arrives this week to keynote a dinner for local technology and contracting executives hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council (and sponsored, in part, by Capital Business).

The Download asked Chambers to outline his objectives while in town for a few days.

What are Cisco's legislative priorities right now?

For this trip to Washington, I'm coming with a simple message: In order to maintain global competitiveness and continue to grow jobs in the United States, we must have a corporate tax rate that is in line with the rest of the world.

Cisco is one of very few companies that is hiring today, having already added 10 percent to our workforce this past year. I'd like to grow our head count another 10 percent in the U.S. if we could repatriate our foreign earnings at a low rate.

How have the calls for the government to consolidate IT impacted your business and approach to Washington?

Much like the calls for streamlined government, our business and technology strategy is focused on reducing operating costs, improving efficiency and adopting greener alternatives to address business and societal activities. Data center consolidation is an example of how we're providing more centralized computing services, using consolidated technology and energy resources in order to service the needs of citizens.

What's the key take-away from your speech at the Northern Virginia Technology Council?

My goal is to get people excited about the transformations happening through networking technology in the public and private sectors. With collaboration technologies, video and cloud computing, government can improve how it delivers services. And, of course, I want to touch on the role of policy in creating a positive environment for U.S. competitiveness.


The District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer began to pilot Google's e-mail service last week in an effort to assess whether or not the city government should drop Microsoft Exchange.

City CTO Bryan Sivak said "there is potentially a significant business case" for the switch, but his office must first determine the ease of transitioning to a new e-mail provider and whether Gmail can provide comparable features to those the city currently uses.

"If the pilot is successful, I'll probably roll out the migration to another agency perhaps more representative of the D.C. government demographic and move forward from there," Sivak said via e-mail.


High tech doesn't regularly equate to high fashion. After all, the day-to-day uniform for many in the new media crowd largely consists of cargo shorts, tennis shoes and the occasional ironic T-shirt.

But flanked by racks of menswear at the Bloomingdale's in Chevy Chase, local technophiles donned higher-end apparel -- selected by a professional stylist, of course -- to raise money for the Heart of America Foundation.

Microsoft's Mark Drapeau organized the event, dubbed "geek2chic," and recruited such in-demand models as iStrategy Labs founder Peter Corbett, Clearspring chief executive Hooman Radfar and Securities and Exchange Commission new media director Mark Story.

Drapeau said a crowd that straddles the once-wide divide between geeky and stylish is burgeoning and he designed the event to be something "that both kinds of people would be attracted to, where they could network and learn from each other."


-- Rockville-based 20/20 GeneSystems has received $3 million in grants from the National Cancer Institute. Company officials said the money will be spent to develop diagnostics that gauge how tumors will respond to certain drugs.

-- Two local education tech companies, the District's Blackboard and Herndon's K12, have partnered on a new program aimed at college students who require remedial courses.

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