Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Pure Digital’s Jonathan Kaplan–aka the Flip Guy–Speaks (Post-Cisco)!


BoomTown has been an unabashed fan of Pure Digital’s Flip digital video cameras since we debuted them at the D: All Things Digital conference in 2005.

And I have used the nifty device on this site since for my shaky-tastic video extravaganzas.

Yes, Pure Digital’s CEO Jonathan Kaplan (pictured above) is to blame!

Now, Kaplan has gone and sold Flip off to Cisco (CSCO) for $590 million in stock.

Sources said that Pure Digital–this corporate name will go by the wayside, by the way–had also chittered-chatted with Sony (SNE) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) about such a possibility.

That’s pretty good company for Pure Digital, considering it started as a white-label product, shrink-wrapped for theme parks and drugstores.

But the simplicity of its line of relatively inexpensive cameras, including the recently released Mino (seen below, and also sold in a high-definition version), has made it a huge consumer success, which is no easy task in the devices arena.


With Flip software, a user can plug the unit into a USB port of a computer to upload digital video easily. Flip models cost anywhere from $100 to $299.

Spot-on simplicity and a no-brainer feel have made them into the most popular such devices around, and in a very short time.

But, although it got $68.2 million in funding since its founding in 2001, taking all that innovation and success and truly turning it into a global brand was a much longer and more expensive slog for the San Francisco start-up.

Hence, a sale to the bigs.

Pure Digital is probably a good fit for Cisco, which has been trying to turbocharge its consumer-focused business, especially in home networking, and the move is a clear step in that direction.

In the integration, Cisco has made the Flip team part of ypuCisco’s Consumer Business group, and Kaplan will become general manager of the combined organization.

What comes next for Flip could be interesting, including the addition of social-networking and streaming features, which would dovetail well with Cisco’s other investments in consumer networking.

But most of all, it’s a nice ending to a very sharp company that makes a great product. Introducing a new consumer electronics device into the world is no small task and, clearly, Flip deserves the much bigger stage it is set to get.

Here’s my video interview with Kaplan, about Flip’s history and future: