17 Conference Report #techonomy17

A Conversation with Cisco’s John Chambers


  • Cisco's John Chambers in the audience during his interview at Techonomy 2017. Photo: Paul Sakuma Photography

  • Cisco's John Chambers and David Kirkpatrick during their interview at Techonomy 2017. Photo: Paul Sakuma Photography

  • Cisco's John Chambers during his interview at Techonomy 2017. Photo: Paul Sakuma Photography

  • Cisco's John Chambers speaks with David Kirkpatrick of Techonomy. Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma Photography


John Chambers
Executive Chairman, Cisco


David Kirkpatrick
Founder and CEO, Techonomy

A conversation between David Kirkpatrick and John Chambers of Cisco. Below is an excerpt from their conversation.

The full transcript is also available here as a downloadable PDF.

Kirkpatrick: I want to just immediately bring out somebody who I have tremendous respect for and who is a legend of global business and American business, John Chambers. So John, would you please come out here?


Kirkpatrick: John Chambers is—you’re still executive chairman right this minute?

Chambers: Until the middle of December, yes.

Kirkpatrick: Until the middle of December, he’s executive chairman of Cisco, which he ran as CEO for many years, and when he arrived at Cisco as CEO—what year was that?

Chambers: I came to Cisco in January of ’91, became CEO in January ’95.

Kirkpatrick: That’s the year I started covering tech. That’s exactly the month I started covering tech, January ’91.

Chambers: Both of us were lucky.

Kirkpatrick: No wonder we’ve known each other a long time. Cisco had $70 million in revenues when he arrived in January ’91. When he left, which was about two years ago, they had $50 billion in revenues. They had 400 employees when he arrived; they had 75,000 employees when he left. So there’s cause for him being a legend. He is one of the great leaders and thinkers of American business. And not only is he a really very effective and thoughtful manager, but he has an ability, as you’ll see, to think about the context of business in an extremely constructive way and he has engaged at a global level for probably as long or longer than any other big corporate leader that I know. And I mean the way we really got to know each other was at Davos.

Chambers: Yes.

Kirkpatrick: Where you have been a really, really deeply committed participant for decades. And I think the reason, probably as much as anything, that you were able to grow Cisco so much was how global of a view you did take.

Chambers: That’s the nicest intro he’s ever given me. So the next question’s going to be really tough. [LAUGHS]

Kirkpatrick: Well the next question is—the next question you could say is a little more parochial even, because I wanted to talk about the United States. You have been, from the earliest period, an advocate for the internet as a competitive opportunity for the United States, an engine for growth. You famously were an advocate with President Clinton back in the day for what the internet could be. So how did that go? How do you think we have come in this period and how would you assess where the U.S. is right now in terms of our sort of application of connectivity for our benefit?

Chambers: So I had the honor, and I think both of us were very fortunate, we came into our jobs just as the internet took off in the early ‘90s. It sounds very normal today to say the internet was going to change the way you work and live and learn and play and it would change every business and forever change how you touch your customers. But that’s what happened. And in the mid-90s I was with President Clinton onstage at the White House, scared to death because I was about to become CEO and I was trying not to mess up this thing on a national agenda, but it was about the internet era, and Ira Magaziner was the thought process behind it for President Clinton. President Clinton was on my right, Vice President Gore on the left, and he was talking about what we were going to do as a country and what a difference it would make in the country and I was there to talk about it from the business, the technology side, to really fill in the opportunities that he outlined. And many people did not grasp that day the tremendous opportunity but also the challenges that go with it. As usual with creative ideas, most people were challenging.

Fast forward to the end of his term. In eight years—and remember, I’m a moderate Republican, which is kind of endangered in this world, but basically 24 percent in the average American household income—the last time America got a raise was 2000—34 percent growth in GDP and 22.5 million jobs.

Kirkpatrick: The 24 percent was what exactly?

Chambers: The average mean American household income increase. So in other words, the average person from 1992 to the time that he left office, their income went up by 24 percent. But it was around the internet era and people got it.

Now, where we are today is the U.S. clearly led in this last transition and was literally years ahead of everyone else. David, today it’s not the case. We are the only major country in the world that does not have a digital era plan that is at a national level, not just for the country, but also in terms of startups, and job creation.

If you watch who is leading, it will shock you. Israel, you can say that doesn’t count because they’re a startup nation. But it was Shimon Peres and [Benjamin] Netanyahu who started this in motion about six years ago. It was France, in Europe. And when we said France would become a great place to do business and it would become the startup nation of Europe, which I said three years ago onstage with at that time Economic Minister [Emmanuel] Macron, even my closest friends said, “John, great place to go for dinner, great place to go vacation, but not a chance.” And fast forward to today, watch what just happened last quarter. They’ve been the top startup engine in Europe in terms of VC investments in tech startups as of last year. They went from an average of about 120 per year to 486 in two and a half years. They also, as you know, in startups—I saw there are several VCs joining us—you start off with smaller investments and as a company gets bigger—it took them only one year from the time they became the startup most investments by VC to be number one in terms of total dollars.

And what surprises you, go to India, somewhere you might consider a third world nation. [Narendra] Modi, in India is as good as you hear. He’s outlining the digital agenda for his country. He’s leapfrogging other countries, including the U.S., with how does he go after this as a country and how does he create 1.2 million jobs per month, how does he grow the average income of every citizen in India, not doubling every 10 years, but doubling every five to six years. To the U.S., we still don’t have a national agenda on this. We talk about startups and job creation and job destruction, but we don’t time them together and we have still failed to deal with our failed education system.

Kirkpatrick: So Modi doesn’t just say he’s creating jobs, he actually has a strategy to do it.

Chambers: Not just a strategy. If he doesn’t create 1.2 million jobs per month, he’ll have social unrest. Because—

Kirkpatrick: But he sees digitalization as the tool.

Chambers: It’s digital India, everywhere. But he also understands his strengths and limitations. He knows it’s going to destroy jobs. He knows he’s got to get a startup engine going faster. He knows he’s got to make this inclusive across all 29 states and the five territories. And he is fearless. When he believes it’s in the right interests of his country, he first inspires hope, he then gets people to believe it’s possible, then probable, and then execution. Now, he needs even more execution arms around him, but so far he’s off to a great start. India will be the fastest growing economy in the world for this next decade. When I said that three years ago, people looked at me like I was crazy. You know, “What about China? What about the other countries?” I think it was Morgan Stanley or JPMorgan Chase just came out with saying India will grow an average GDP growth of 10 percent per year for the next decade.

Kirkpatrick: 10 percent?

Chambers: Think what that means in terms of the economic benefit to his citizens and the economic inclusiveness. In the United States, we’ve got the opposite problem. Most of the creativity and startups are on the East Coast or West Coast. We’ve moved from the startup nation—I mean, think about it, all of us understand in this room, we are the best in startups, right? Wrong. We’ve become the worst. In the first half of this decade, 2010 to 2015, we only grew startups by 12 percent. Our peers in countries like Australia and France and India grew at 40 to 60 percent. And what did China grow? At 100 percent, 4,000 startups a day.

Understand the implications. If you believe, as I do, that digitization and many of the cool technology things we’re talking about will destroy jobs in large enterprise accounts and 40 percent of them won’t even exist in a meaningful way in a decade, if you don’t get the startup engine going faster than ever before, you’ll leave behind your nation. And you’ve got to do inclusive of all states, not just the East Coast and the West Coast. Today we are at a 40 year low on the startups. Today you’re going to struggle to see the Nasdaq get to 100 IPOs this year and under 100 last year, and we normally do 200 to 240. At a time when we should be doubling and tripling our IPOs to achieve the 25 to 30 million jobs our political leaders have outlined, we’re going the other way.

So on the one hand, I’m a huge optimist on what this means. It will occur probably three to four times faster than the internet era. On the other hand, if we don’t deal with our basic issues in terms of inclusion, in terms of an education system that has failed, in terms of a startup engine that is the envy of the world, not in last place of the major countries, we’ve got a problem.

Kirkpatrick: Geez, I’m glad you’re leaving Cisco. You’re letting yourself think about some other good stuff. We need your voice on this. Thank you so much for saying that.

Chambers: Well it’s fun, but you know, I have lots of weaknesses. My wife could get you a list, she could talk for an hour on it. But I can talk about market transitions and I get those and I understand how to take a market transitions, identify the right leaders and make it happen. So in my next life I’m going to take 10 to 12 startups and lead by example. They won’t just be here in Silicon Valley. They’ll be spread throughout the country, in Texas and Georgia and in Colorado and in Illinois and in West Virginia and in New York and in Berlin and Paris and also in India. Not because that’s a good business strategy, because those of you in the VC world know you’re better off staying close to home. But I want to show we can really make it inclusive. My job is to see those grow 25 to 50 percent a year in terms of headcount and to be a model where I can push the country on how we do things differently and have fun doing it.

Kirkpatrick: So talk about how you’re picking the companies you’re getting involved in.

Chambers: Well, you and I have had a lot of debates, David, about when you think about innovation, so many companies, organizations innovate in a silo and they do it one time. And very few—and you can go through them, an IBM, an Intel, even a Microsoft, great companies, for decades primarily got 90 percent of their revenue from one product area. They didn’t reinvent themselves. At Cisco, we would try to reinvent ourselves. We’re not perfect and I made mistakes. But we moved from our products being routers that were 90 percent of profits and growth to about 15 percent.

Chambers: You made big bets and took big risks, no question.

Chambers: Always. And we missed some of them. But that’s part of leadership. But we did 180 acquisitions very well. Two out of three worked for us in an industry where 90 percent failed. But we developed a replicate-able process and we said, “Here are the golden rules of acquisition.” And today I think Oracle is the only one that comes close to us in terms of their success. They would say they followed our playbook exactly.

Now, fast forward to how I look at startups. The key technology trends is the most important thing to get that will introduce market transitions. So no surprise to the people in this room, artificial intelligence, where we’re going with cloud, where we’re going with big data, where we’re going with security, where we’re going with mobility and with social media and how do you combine those to catch a market transition that you pick the leader within that group, ideally one to two years before the transition occurs? And so my replicate-able playbook is very simple. The first thing I do is get the market transition right, whether that’s in drones, whether it’s in social media, whether it’s in security, whether it’s in mobility, whether it’s in big data, analytics, etcetera—

Kirkpatrick: Food?

Chambers: Or the next source of protein. Protein will be food. And the more stretch—

Kirkpatrick: Wait, wait, finish that food one quickly. The next source of protein will be?

Chambers: I will predict to you all in this room—and David, you’ve watched me do this, what, seven or eight times over the years? Voice will be free, the internet will change the world, digital countries. The primary source that you will be having of protein in your life, definitely within 20 years, maybe in 15, will be insect protein. It won’t be the poor that does this. It will be so balanced because it will be the cleanest form of protein that you can produce at the least challenge to the environment and it will be done through robotics and it will be done through big data and it will be done through cloud applications, completely transforming our ability to consume. Because we’re going to run out of land to grow crops and to grow meat and poultry and other things. So my big bet, if you were taking a really stretch one, bet on a company called Aspire out of Texas, run by a brilliant young CEO, gets the market transition right, understands what is about to occur, brought a bunch of other really good MBOs and doctorates with him and they are leading the world in terms of insect protein for the future.

Kirkpatrick: Using crickets.

Chambers: Crickets is the easiest one because you can grow them dramatically faster, dramatically clean source of food. The ability to control what they eat, what they consume—by using robotics and big data, you can grow them 50 percent bigger in a third the time. It’s the cleanest source for protein power you can get. And I had a dinner the other night just to prove the point. Seven courses at one of the top restaurants in the world, Michelin three-star restaurant in San Francisco called Saison. It was crickets at every single thing, from cricket margaritas—

Kirkpatrick: Crickets all the way down.

Chambers: All the way through your biscuits, all the way through your desserts. So again, what we do in the Valley is we dream big but it has to be inclusive and you’ve got to think about how do we take the strengths of an innovation process and bring it across each of the states and other areas. So I’m trying to get the market transitions right, excitement about security, excitement about drones, excitement about social media and knowing what you’re going to buy before you even log on to the website and being able to watch your comments on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and 22 other social media forces and know by your comments you’re about to buy—and I congratulate you on starting to run again. You’re going to run in the marathon, the new shoes you’re going to wear, they’re going to suggest it and target you from Nike on here’s your buying criteria.

Kirkpatrick: And I know what company you’re talking about. It’s Sprinklr there, right?

Chambers: Yes, it is.

Kirkpatrick: But is there sort of a social responsibility/sustainability theme through all of this for you?

Chambers: There is for me because—you know, again, far from perfect, but my parents taught me early on those who are most successful owe an obligation to give back. And at Cisco, while we’ve been far from perfect there, we’ve done pretty well on corporate social responsibility. We’ve won every major corporate social responsibility award almost there is, from the top company in America by both the Obama and Secretary Clinton gave us the award, and then with President Bush and Condi Rice. I’ve always believed you owe an obligation, when there are technology trends occurring, to identify the weaknesses and how do you leverage them to give back? So I think these types of things, David, can have a huge impact on society. We’ve done that very successfully in the past in the Middle East. Everywhere we’ve been number one in corporate social responsibility, guess what? Number one in market share. So I don’t think it’s the nice thing to do, I think it’s also just—

Kirkpatrick: So companies can do well by doing good. And you’re totally—

Chambers: I think more than do well, I think it’s an obligation of the most successful.

Kirkpatrick: Okay, I want to—we’ve so little time, but we are going to have time for the audience, so get your thoughts and questions ready. Security, I just want you to touch on that briefly, because I know it is one of your major themes and I know you’re quite worried.

Chambers: Well, what you have all read—and there are a lot of experts in this room—is the bad guys are moving much faster on security than our ability to defend against it. I think it needs to be one of the top five technology trends of this next year, on cybersecurity. I’ve not seen anybody put it at that level in terms of there’s got to be breakthroughs, architecture, etcetera. On some of the elements that I’m involved in—and this ties the big themes back to what I do personally—a company like Pindrop, which was the number one player in fraud prevention at your credit card accounts, etcetera, is now becoming the number one in terms of voice authentication. Voice, we made it free, what, 15 years ago? My statements on that, it did become free. I thought it was a platform of the past; it’s going to be a platform of the future. It’s how you’re going to face basically, with Google Home, Amazon Echo—in your car, etcetera, will be voice and voice authentication becomes the key area of security.

Kirkpatrick: And that will help keep us safer.

Chambers: Absolutely.

Kirkpatrick: But we have to constantly be fighting this arms race really harder than we are now.

Chambers: Exactly. And you’ve got to think about how you do that authentication where you aren’t like a criminal. When you try to draw something out of your bank, basically it identifies your voice, it identifies your device, and it identifies your biometrics, it identifies your pattern that you use in coming off your mobile phone. Even your mobile phone, for probably $100,000 dollars, David, somebody could learn and turn it on, listen to every conversation you have, actually turn on the video when you don’t even know it’s there. So another company we’re looking at is how do you put security around that capability.

But bottom line, try to get the market transitions, get a really good CEO, get somebody who’s got the first couple lighthouse accounts, a good board of directors around them, a vision to become one or two in the area, and something that does good for the world as well.

Kirkpatrick: Well, I would love to have that formula applied to Techonomy. So quickly, I know something that you’re thinking about a lot is the relationship between Silicon Valley and the rest of the country. Talk about how you think that’s going at the moment, how they think here, and how the rest of the country and the world thinks about them, or us, or however you want—

Chambers: I was going to figure out a way to avoid that question. It’s not good. Let me start with a little bit of background. When a region is out of touch with either the technology or business changes or social changes, you run a risk of moving from the good people to the problem. Boston 128, for those of you who have been around for a couple of decades, used to be the high tech center of the world. I was with Wang Laboratories there. We knew it. We were great institutions, MIT, Harvard, etcetera, on it, probably 2,000 to 3,000 major high tech companies of different sizes on it. Fast forward to today, they missed the market transitions, they were out of touch, we didn’t understand minicomputers weren’t the future, didn’t move to software, the PCs, the internet and we got left behind.

Silicon Valley runs the risk that we could miss major market transitions, including how people view us around the world, that we can’t be viewed as a region, even though we’re very well meaning, that says we can help solve your problems and yet we’re creating unemployment and then say the answer is going to be we’ll give you a stipend or a universal income. Nobody out of the states I’m from that I know, out of Indiana, out of an Illinois, out of a North Carolina, out of a West Virginia, out of a Georgia wants to go home to their kids and say, you know, “I’ve got a guaranteed income.” They want a job that’s meaningful. They want to have a chance for the future. And they’re going to take risk and push people to do things to make that happen. So I think we run a danger in the Valley, even though very well meaning, of being viewed as the cause of the problem rather than the solution and we’ve got to be very careful not to impose our views on the rest of American, who believe—


Thank you. Who believe for the first time that their kids are not going to have a better life than they do and they’re probably not going to have a better life than their parents. So let’s get back to it. Let’s make every state a startup state. That’s why I was in West Virginia a week and a half ago, that’s why I’m in Georgia. How do we really—if France can do it—can you imagine, France can do it and they’re kicking our backside again and again and again and we still have no national policy.

Kirkpatrick: And they still can cook, too. Yeah, but—

Chambers: Crickets.

Kirkpatrick: I know—right, pretty soon. And very quickly, I know that in your investing, you’re going to be in these 10 or 12 companies and they’re not going to be mostly in Silicon Valley. That’s a policy decision that you’ve made, right?

Chambers: Exactly. They’re going to spread across six other states at the present time in terms of planning, three countries, Berlin, France, and India in terms of the countries. And I’m going to try to lead by example, because I think you can get this diversity, I think you can develop a replicate-able process for how does it occur. And then each governor perhaps can—if we’re not going to have a national policy, each governor can say, “Here’s my policy for really changing my country.”

Interesting enough, in a comment about the importance of immigration, these are being led by people like Gustavus, people like Mohammed, people like Ivan, Mario, Luca, people that are clearly first and second generation immigrants are often the CEOs, even though the majority of jobs might also be for people that have been in this country for several generations.

Kirkpatrick: Okay, well good to hear you saying that. Okay, who has a question or comment? Michael Miller, who always has good questions.

Chambers: You know, it’s always fun when you do these sessions. Basically, if you have your first question, it’s so important that the first question go well. So when there’s a problem, what you do is you go to the person who’s about to ask the first question, you get over beside them, you basically put your arm on their shoulder—


Chambers: So your question Michael?


Kirkpatrick: It better be good.

Miller: For years I’ve heard you at these conferences talking about how all these new technologies, whether collaboration, IoT, were going to make us all more productive. Yet the productivity numbers remain awful. Why?

Chambers: I think the productivity numbers remain awful for several reasons. First is we have not had the courage to change business process with the technology. And I’m going to use a specific example. Because merely getting the technology that is really cool and not to have changed the business process causes you to fail. So you’ve got to get a market transition right, but you have to the underlying business process.

What is the least productive industry in the world? Mining. The last two decades, minus 3% productivity decrease. Watch what a company like Barrick Gold is doing with digitization. It’s changing its entire process. It’s changing literally how—there will be completely human-less mines. Every piece of large equipment, drones will fly the sites. You’ll basically have what is Mine 1 in Elko, Nevada, where the mine site with the humans will be over to the side and they’re run it digitally within it. They will take the price of gold from $800 per ounce to produce and mine down to $700 to $600 to $500. It will transform an industry.

The point that I’m making, however, is what John Thornton, who is their executive chairman—he’s changing the whole process behind it. So you’re about to see a wave of productivity occur at a tremendous pace and it will be one that will translate through. Now, the danger is if you don’t create more jobs at the same time you do productivity, you all know the math. This means the unemployment levels go up. It means we’ve got a real problem with employment five to ten years out in this country.

Did France look at the negatives of this? Yeah, they understood the negatives. But they understood they could do it inclusive across their whole country. Did India look at the negatives of this? Absolutely. But they had a whole different attitude on GDP growth and productivity growth and average income growth.

We used to be the country of dreamers. My question is have we lost our ability to dream and make it happen? And so I think your question hit right at the very heart. We have to have the courage to lead this change, not follow reluctantly. And if we follow reluctantly and we don’t make it inclusive of the various states, we’re going to have social and political behavior that might surprise us.

Kirkpatrick: Wow, okay. Who else—ah, there, John.

Kao: I’m not expecting you to come over here, although that wasn’t—

Chambers: Only if your question’s tough. I’ve already figured where your exit is. I’ll catch you before you get there.


Kao: So John Kao. I know of your engagement—

Chambers: And I like the tough questions. Don’t let me slow it down on that. It’s just fun.

Kao: The topic of education. Education is the wellspring of a lot of the entrepreneurship competitiveness, etcetera, addressing America’s challenge. What are a couple of your big ideas about how we can fix education and what is the role of technology in that equation?

Chambers: So I think technology is the enabler for this change. I think as a country we’ve got to quit talking about STEM and go straight to technology on the answer. I think we’ve got to quit incrementally taking one small step at a time, we’ve got to do something bold, out of box. I think we ought to capture our young people at the ages of 10 to 14, especially based on gender and diversity, about they have a chance at a digital entrepreneurial future, and we ought to have—and this kills me to say this—a national policy with every state buying in to move with tremendous speed and change the game.

Who is the best in Europe on education? Probably France. Do you know what they’re doing? They’re taking not just Cisco Network Academies and growing it from 25,000 students a year to 250,000 students per year that will be able to get a job in this new economy. They’re trying with us the Digital Entrepreneur Program that we wrote at the request of their government, about change this and capture our young women, our diverse group, and the traditional males early on with animation capabilities. They rolled it out across three of their major locations on pilots. It went extremely well. Young women who had never before really felt like they had good ideas, etcetera, suddenly were at the front of the class suggesting ideas. They’re going to take it from the first three classes to 100,000 to 500,000 and then across all 3.5 million of their students, if it works. Can you imagine the US having that courage?

Kirkpatrick: Yeah, not—

Chambers: Why not try it to see if it works? So to answer your question, I think our education system is broken. The universities aren’t as far ahead. We’ve got to change that very quickly.

Kirkpatrick: Okay, this great session is running out of time. But let’s get one more here.

Munro: Dan Munro from Forbes. A quick question on healthcare. So Warren Buffett earlier this year said that healthcare is literally a tapeworm eating away at our global competitiveness and he gives the American economy a 5 percent handicap just on the healthcare costs. How do we solve that? What’s the solution?

Chambers: Well, Warren’s a brilliant man and he’s thought about this in many ways. I disagree that we have a major disadvantage versus traditional players. I would argue that the cost of healthcare in Europe, Japan, and other areas with actually an older and a faster aging group, they’re going to go bankrupt before we do.

But the underlying premise is absolutely right. It is doing such damage to our economy and GDP. I have two parents who are doctors, my brother-in-law has been CEO of four pharmaceutical companies, my other brother-in-law runs the largest healthcare system in North Carolina, in terms of the University of North Carolina. We’ve got to get the productivity going in this and we’ve got to get the incentives and the traditional ways of doing healthcare to think out of box. I think an approach of let’s get 5 to 10 percent growth in productivity in terms of measured by the cost of giving a superior service and let’s use all these capabilities we talked about before.

I’m a little bit of an optimist here, however, because if you follow venture capital, that’s usually where the next transition is going to occur. A lot of venture capital money going into healthcare for the first time in quite a while. So I think it’s there, but again, we need our political leaders to align with where is the future going, not—and we need these tax changes that are occurring, don’t misunderstand me. But that’s been an issue for 15 years. We need both political parties to paint a future of America of greatness and how technology enables that and how do we use our innovation, how do we get back on track, and come to grips with we’re falling behind.

Kirkpatrick: Okay. Unfortunately, we’ve got to ask a last question. Given the moment we’re in, it’s very easy for a lot of people, even sophisticated people, educated people, to sort of throw up their hands and say, “You know, I just can’t make a difference because it’s kind of getting out of my control.” Does that make any sense to you? And how do you rebut that I guess is the question.

Chambers: I think it makes a lot of sense, because sometimes it’s so easy to feel helpless with all of the changes that are going on. Unfortunately, I think this the new world we deal in. I don’t think it’s going to get less complex or less challenging. I think this is the new norm. However, what I focus on is market transitions. And that is clearly occurring now, David. I believe even the toughest transition in the world, global peace, can be used with technology and startups to completely change the economy.

Kirkpatrick: Thank you for bringing that up.

Chambers: And I learned this from Shimon Peres, who was almost like a second father to me, a great friend for 18 years. We dreamed together. He took me into Upper Nazareth, Lower Nazareth, literally with the Christians, the Jews, and the Arab population together. And the crowds would come around him—I thought we were going to get killed. He was just so relaxed in that. And he set out a dream for Israel, along with Prime Minister Netanyahu, to not just keep it as the innovation nation, but to include the diverse pockets, 40 percent of the Arab population who didn’t participate and the Orthodox Jewish population who did not participate, and say how do we change this, first in Israel, then in the rest of the Middle East.

My session about a month and a half ago where Henry Kissinger and I gave the outside comments on celebrating his life and his passing one year later, that morning I met with 10 of the hottest startups in Israel. Three of them were Arab, one Palestinian, three Orthodox Jews, three with women. His vision was coming true. Cisco’s done that once before in Palestine, where with just $10 million dollar investments in startups, first for corporate social responsibility and then for economic gains, we took the GDP of Palestine from one half of 0.1 percent being high tech to 6.5 percent in just three years. I believe you can do this across all aspects of the Middle East. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia clearly gets that. He’s going to be as good as you hear, in my opinion, in terms of changes. You see each of—

Kirkpatrick: Depending on who you are, perhaps. But yes.

Chambers: Yeah, well I’m talking more about—you have no stability in a country when 90 percent of your income is in the top 1 percent. And if people do not have an economic future, you’re going to have always social unrest and terrorism. So make it inclusive across the country, whether you’re in Qatar, whether you’re in Jordan, whether you’re in UAE, whether you’re in Saudi Arabia, whether you’re in Israel or Palestine, all of which I go to all the time. It is a change that can occur.

So back to the theme of this conference. The market waits for no one. You get market transitions right, it’s disrupt or be disrupted. Don’t keep doing to the right thing too long. Have the courage to change. Have the courage to dream what’s possible. And going back to our country, have the courage to become the startup nation once again. Optimistic for the future, realistic on the challenges.

Kirkpatrick: Well, I hope you’ll keep partnering with Techonomy because we agree with almost everything you’ve said—except for one or two things. But almost. [LAUGHS]

Chambers: Almost, yeah. [LAUGHS]


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