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More Juniper Jujitsu

Posted by: Peter Burrows on November 08, 2005

Juniper clearly knows how to sell networking gear. It’s been stuck in high-gear in recent years, winning hefty helpings of market share, not to mention a 90s-style valuation from investors.

But Juniper is also expert at a certain kind of public relations—the kind that involves using its much larger rival Cisco Systems as a stepping stone to raise its own profile. It did this with a seemingly endless series of Far Side-style print ads that poked fun at Cisco. And now comes word that Juniper has hired Michael Lynn, the security expert who became a cause celebre in July when he aired details of a vulnerability in Cisco’s routers at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. Having been warned that he’d be sued if he gave his talk, Lynn decided to go ahead anyway, quitting his job with consultancy Internet Security Systems before taking the stage.

Lynn’s hiring took me by surprise, given a conversation I had a few days ago with a Cisco executive about Lynn’s job prospects. Mike Turnlund, Cisco’s director of engineering, recalls watching a webcast of Lynn’s presentation, and the feeling of sadness that came over him as Lynn began disclosing his details. Turnlund figured the twenty-something Lynn was ruining an otherwise promising career, in exchange for his fifteen minutes of fame. “I thought ‘poor kid.’ We all knew he was cooking his own goose.”

Until Juniper came to the rescue, that is. While a Juniper spokesperson won’t say what Lynn is doing for the company, she insists he was hired for his skills and talent, not because he’s a cult figure among Cisco critics. Maybe that’s true—but only partially.

Juniper is also expert at a certain kind of public relations--the kind that involves using its much larger rival Cisco Systems as a stepping stone to raise its own profile.

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Reader Comments


November 9, 2005 03:03 PM

Juniper should really send a referral bonus to Cisco folks..In this case they really made Juniper hire Michael by publicising the episode so much..How could Juniper let go such an opportunity ? Cisco should only hope that with all the publicity this issue is getting on the blogs it does not kick in "failure" kind of googlebomb against Cisco

But I think this is a far bigger deal than just Juniper/Cisco rivalry.. this is a litmus test for influence of virtual community supported by bloggers on the big ticket business products..we can see something like this will affect business of a consumer business big way ..but we need to see does this affect the business decisions for products like Cisco..if it ends up influencing the decisions then bloggers can compete for meaningful ad revenues..because those are the people who can pump in money for tech savvy audience.. So this story has to be followed carefully..

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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