Cisco CEO John Chambers is known for being soft spoken — and speaking his mind. The tech industry icon said Wednesday that he believes cloud computing is insecure, that Silicon Valley is in bubble territory, and that he’s not interested in acquiring in-play storage specialist EMC.
Chambers also said he thinks Hilary Clinton could have a relatively easy run to the White House unless the Republican Party, of which he is a member, can find a more formidable opponent than the current crop of presumed challengers.
“I hope we can find a candidate who could give her a run,” said Chambers, who spoke at a panel hosted by The Wall Street Journal in midtown Manhattan. The CEO was responding to a wide range of questions from Journal Business Editor Dennis Berman.
“She would make a great world leader,” said Chambers, who has shared stages with the former first lady and New York senator on numerous occasions. “She listens well … and when she says she’s going to do something she does it.”
Chambers said he is wary about Silicon Valley’s startup scene, and likened the situation to the late 1990s, just before the dot-com bubble burst. He noted that roughly 80 percent of the companies that have gone public in the past year “have no earnings.”
He added that venture capitalists are throwing money at almost every startup with an app. “Companies are getting way too much money,” he said. As a result, he predicted that the majority of social networking startups in the Bay Area “will not be around in 10 years.”
One of Chambers’ more astonishing admissions was that he believes that cloud computing, an IT architecture that’s being pushed by virtually all major tech vendors, can leave enterprise and personal data vulnerable to theft.
“The BS part [about cloud computing] is that it’s secure,” said Chambers. “It’s not there yet.” The comment was surprising given that Cisco in March pledged to invest $1 billion over the next two years to build out its cloud services.
The cloud’s vulnerability was highlighted earlier this month, when a number of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Kim Kardashian had their Apple iCloud accounts hacked.
On the subject of investments, Chambers ruled out making a bid for EMC Corp. Reports have said the company, which specializes in data storage, is up for grabs. Dell and Hewlett-Packard are thought to be among the interested parties. Cisco, said Chambers, is not. Referring to EMC CEO Joseph Tucci, Chambers said that, “If Joe and I were going to do something it would have been a year ago.”
Cisco in August reported fourth-quarter earnings of 55 cents per share, compared to 52 cents in the year-earlier period. Revenues came in at $12.36 billion, roughly flat with the previous year. The company also said it planned to eliminate 6,000 positions as part of a restructuring.