The end of a government contract was the catalyst for an entirely new business beginning for LiveAction, one of Cisco Investments’ most prolific investment portfolio companies.
LiveAction’s technology and solutions center around developing IT visibility solutions designed to simplify network management.
“Our software manages routers, switches, firewalls and other network elements. We visualize these on a map from a Global View to a Branch View, all the way down to a Device View,” said LiveAction Executive Chairman Darren Kimura. “From there, users can click on a ‘problem dot’ – and drill down to an interface on the device. It works for all segments, from energy companies with 50,000 sites all the way down to single offices with just one or two.”
The company contracted to work with the Department of Defense in 2007 and assist in the department’s need for simplified network management. During this time, the company pushed new software development and what would eventually become LiveAction to the forefront of networking’s stage.
“The military communicated across some pretty comprehensive networks. And the people who were named admins were inexperienced personnel and not well versed in network management. Our challenge was to make it easier to run the networks and do so without having to memorize the Cisco Field Manual,” said Darren. “So the idea behind LiveAction was to make things visual like a video game where users could just click the mouse, select an option and deploy a command across the entire router chain.”
With their government contract ending, the team was left with a question of where and how they could use their technology. After entering the commercial market, they rebranded as LiveAction.
Their work with the Department of Defense had already drawn Cisco’s attention.
“We were able to demonstrate our team wrote quality, stable code and in doing that, Cisco realized we did what we said we would and our engineers were of the highest caliber. We also built excellent rapport with different groups within Cisco, too,” said Darren.
As their relationship with Cisco developed, LiveAction also become a portfolio company of Cisco Investments in 2014, securing $5.35 million for their Series A round of financing.
Since becoming a Cisco Investments portfolio company, LiveAction has experienced significant growth and participated in several different events and partner programs. Having relationships already developed prior to investment, they were able to plug in to key go-to-market programs and events for further growth. For example, they are a part of Cisco’s Solution Partner Program, and over the past three years, they have participated in Partner Summit, Partner Connection Series and a highly visible showing at Cisco IT Pitch Day.
LiveAction’s participation in Partner Summit was particularly noteworthy during the 2015 event. There, the company was named winners of the Cisco Solution Partner Program Business Outcomes contest in the “Manufacturing and Energy” category. LiveAction was awarded for their implementation work with Seventy Seven Energy.
“We were one of the smaller companies at Partner Summit, but it elevated our awareness and has been super enlightening to us,” Darren said. “We had the opportunity to meet with our existing partners, meet new ones and learn what Cisco has planned for the upcoming year. With this information, we can adjust our strategies to better align with Cisco.”
LiveAction is also listed on Cisco’s Global Price List, which provides them access to Gold partners, the highest tier of partners in Cisco’s channel ecosystem. It enabled them to easily insert themselves into Cisco’s sales deals, and increased the ease-of-doing business and partnerships within Cisco’s sales force and channel partners.
The LiveAction team also benefits from the direct feedback they receive from engineer members on Cisco’s Distinguished Systems Engineer DSE) Advisory team.
“We’re able to brief engineers on our technology and get feedback. It’s a huge push, because the DSE influences what people buy and we want them to tell us where we’re not doing a good job.”
Cisco isn’t the only organization recognizing LiveAction’s value or the disruption they’ve had on the industry. The company was recently recognized in Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant as a “Challenger” and the significance of making this list is not lost on Darren.
“This was an awesome surprise,” he said. “You always hear that if you apply and make it, to expect to be at the bottom left of the quadrant. This is our first year on it and we broke through, I think this is telling of our strategy. At LiveAction, we’ve always put the customers first. So we spend time figuring out what matters to our customers, what brings value to them, what makes their day easier and this is how we created see, point, click, fix.”
With significant industry recognition, growth, and a growing go-to-market strategy that aligns closely to Cisco’s broad partner ecosystem, LiveAction is a true startup success story. Reflecting on LiveAction’s trajectory and the blueprint they’re establishing for others seeking funding from corporate VCs like Cisco Investments, Darren’s words of advice are fairly direct.
“It’s a commitment. And it’s not something you can half-step. Cisco is focused on end-value for the long-haul – and so are we.”