Why Cisco Systems (CSCO) Is Buying BabbleLabs

By Amit Chowdhry ● August 26, 2020
  • Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) recently announced its intent to buy BabbleLabs’ noise removal and speech enhancement technology. This is why.

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) recently announced its intent to buy BabbleLabs’ noise removal and speech enhancement technology. BabbleLabs’ noise removal and speech enhancement technology will further Cisco’s commitment to delivering better video meeting experiences from anywhere and on any device through the Webex application.

And this acquisition builds upon a focused technology and talent strategy to continue to integrate intelligence into the Cisco Collaboration platform. The technology promotes customer privacy and cloud security by processing noise removal 100% at the source where the noise happens (on the client-side), aligning with Cisco’s culture of security by design.

Now that many more people are working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unwanted background noise has become one of the most common and frustrating distractions in work environments. And it will help users control unwanted noise in meetings whether it is from barking dogs, lawnmowers, car alarms, sirens, etc.

Based out of Campbell, California, BabbleLabs uses advanced AI techniques to distinguish human speech from unwanted noise, enhancing the quality of communications and conferencing applications. And BabbleLabs goes beyond existing noise suppression technology solutions by:

1.) Distinguishing speech from background noise;

2.) Removing background noise in real-time; and

3.) Enhancing the voice to elevate communication, regardless of language

A Cisco global survey focused on the future of work determined that 98% of workers say they experience frustration from distractions during video meetings when working from home. And 2 of the 5 frustrations called out are about background noise — either from other participants or from their own side of the call.

Through the addition of BabbleLabs, Cisco is going to bring native noise removal capability to its entire Collaboration portfolio. Cisco is initially focusing on integrating BabbleLabs to deliver a better audio experience to Webex Meetings users – wherever they are and however they connect via the Webex application (whether via a conference room or mobile device). 

The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of Cisco’s FY21, subject to customary closing conditions and required regulatory approvals.

And upon completion of the transaction, the BabbleLabs team will join the Cisco Collaboration Group led by senior vice president and general manager Javed Khan — which is part of the Cisco Security and Applications Business.

The BabbleLabs acquisition is building on Cisco’s investments in AI technology and talent over the last three years – all designed to make collaboration more intelligent, secure, effective and productive. And Cisco is uniquely focused on every phase of work and meetings. 

This includes: 1.) before meetings by serving insights into people attending the meeting, or being able to see who’s on before you join and more 2.) during meetings through optimized audio and video, blurred or custom background across any OS, touchless sharing of ideas and files, automated note-taking, live transcription, and more 3.) after meetings by automatically sending meeting notes with spoken action items.

KEY QUOTES:

“A great meeting experience starts with great audio. We’re thrilled to welcome BabbleLabs’ team of highly skilled engineers. Their technology is going to provide our customers with yet another important innovation – automatically removing unwanted noise – to continue enabling exceptional Webex meeting experiences.”

— Jeetu Patel, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Security and Applications Business Unit

“BabbleLabs is excited to become part of Cisco and the Collaboration Group. The Cisco team shares our passion about speech as the core of collaboration and communication. Cisco’s Collaboration platform will enable us to quickly scale our exceptional speech enhancement technology for the hundreds of millions of Webex users.”

— Chris Rowen, CEO and co-founder of BabbleLabs