The CEO of Cisco explains why the tech giant is committing $225 million to fight COVID-19: 'Business must step up and the government must move more quickly' (CSCO)


Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

  • Cisco is committing $225 million in cash and other forms of support to fight COVID-19, the coronavirus disease.
  • The tech giant is providing $210 million worth of access to technologies, such as the Webex video conferencing system, to help governments and other organizations respond faster to the crisis.
  • Cisco is also allocating cash for health, education and other initiatives.
  • “Business must step up and provide interim assistance in all of these cases and the government must move much more quickly than they are,” CEO Chuck Robbins told Business Insider.
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Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said Sunday that the tech giant is committing $225 million to fight COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, as it continues to spread.

“Business must step up and provide interim assistance in all of these cases and the government must move much more quickly than they are,” he told Business Insider via email. “This is not the time for partisan politics.”

Earlier on Sunday, the US Senate failed to agree on a coronavirus relief stimulus package valued at some $1.6 trillion, sending stock futures plunging.

Cisco plans to offer $210 million worth of products, including access to its WebEx web conferencing and its networking gear to help governments with virtual response operations. 

The company is also allocating cash to fund health care, education and other programs, and for grants and matching funds for nonprofit initiatives.

Cisco is one of the major providers of networking gear and software used to run private data centers and the cloud. The $225 million commitment represents roughly 8% of Cisco’s net income in its last fiscal quarter. 

Robbins said it became clear that the crisis was going to be a significant issue for Cisco when the company required employees to work from home. The magnitude of the pandemic became clear when “the widespread outbreak began in the US.”

“I don’t think any of us understood just how much this was going to impact all of us,” Robbins said. “Early on, we had healthy debates about whether we were overreacting or not – for the right reasons.  However, looking back, our decisions were not an overreaction at all. We all have a role to play in helping ourselves, our families and our customers.”

The impact of the crisis clearly will have an impact beyond Silicon and the tech industry, he said.

“My biggest worry is what will happen to the most vulnerable in our society,” Robbins said.  “The homeless as well as those who cannot afford a minor financial shock are my biggest concerns.”

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