Cisco's Flip flop shakes up San Francisco workforce 

Tuesday’s announcement that the popular handheld Flip video camcorder will no longer be manufactured came as a surprise to many — not the least of whom were the 250 or so employees at Flip’s main office in China Basin.

Facebook and Twitter messages from Flip on Monday asked users to suggest new color schemes for the rectangular digital recorders. But on Tuesday, that became moot as workers at the Berry Street office discovered they will find out in May whether they’ll be laid off with a severance package or receive alternative jobs within Cisco, Flip’s parent company.

Cisco announced Tuesday that 550 total positions will be affected, although spokeswoman Karen Tillman declined to provide more detail.

According to a San Francisco-based employee who spoke on condition of anonymity, employees could possibly find alternative work at Cisco’s San Jose headquarters or other consumer product divisions in Irvine or Seattle.

The employee said company budgets began to look sickly at the beginning of this year and Jonathan Kaplan, founder of the San Francisco startup that created Flip, was let go in February.

Cisco acquired Pure Digital Technologies via a $590 million stock takeover in March 2009, when it was hailed as the exception to a sluggish market. But video capabilities on surging smartphones soon captured much of the demand for handheld camcorders.

With a limited share in consumer products, Cisco’s bread and butter is large-scale server products, but it also deals in Linksys home routers and a digital television conferencing device called TelePresence.

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