SAN JOSE, Calif. Protesters interrupted a keynote speech by Cisco Systems chief executive John Chambers at the company's annual Cisco Live event in San Francisco today. Chambers paused twice at the start of his keynote as protesters called out across the audience for more than a minute at the beginning of the keynote.
Watching via a Webcast, it was not immediately clear what the protesters were saying before they were apparently escorted from the hall. In June a worker's union reported on a hunger strike staged by janitors following a layoff in February of 40 percent of Cisco's janitorial staff.
"The Internet is founded on freedom of speech," said Chambers, responding to the protesters. "While we are far from a perfect company, we try to do the best we can for our employees, customers and shareholders," he said, eliciting applause from the audience.
Ironically, the protests started just after Chambers made a comment about the annual Cisco event being an opportunity to listen to its customers and others. Chambers was able to continue his talk after the interruption. The gist of the keynote was about how the network is becoming a platform for businesses connected in real time, often by video.
Later in his talk Chambers briefly touched on Cisco's moves to reduce expenses significantly while moving into 30 new markets, in part due to how it has leveraged the Net.
"We drew a line in the sand not to do major across-the-board layoffs," he said.