Prisma Profiles (Women's History Month) - Janie Tsao

March 17, 2021

Prisma International Corporation invites you to continue celebrating the achievements of women in business this Woman’s History Month.

As we highlight the careers of remarkable women in business, we ask that you join the conversation and share our profiles with others on social media. Those who like, comment, and share our Prisma profiles on LinkedIn will be eligible to win a 30-minute coaching session (winners will be announced April 2nd). This week, we will be concentrating on Janie Tsao, co-founder of Linksys and former Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Linksys Division for Cisco Systems, Inc.

Do you remember the first time you went online? For many of us, internet in the home is a routine and accessible service. Many of our devices connect wirelessly to the internet and we can easily shift from one to device to another while staying on the same network. In the early days of the internet, multi-device connectivity was limited to government agencies and large companies. It wasn’t until Victor and Janie Tsao formed Linksys in their garage in Irvine, CA that the world of consumer internet and networking would be as it is now.

Prior to Linksys, Janie and Victor Tsao held various roles in IT and systems administration for many notable companies. Janie began her career at Sears Roebuck in an entry level IT position. Afterwards, she would work as a Systems Manager for TRW Inc. and Carter Hawley Hale. Eventually, Janie and Victor would start their own consulting company DEW International that assisted in connecting American tech vendors with Taiwanese manufacturers. Janie would leave her position at Carter Hawley Hale and begin developing the retail channels for her and her husband’s burgeoning business, creating the foundations for what would later become Linksys.

At a time when computing was transitioning from the enterprise level to the consumer market, both Janie and Victor saw the need to provide networking solutions to small businesses and enthusiasts. While working with a Taiwanese manufacturer on a separate project for an American client, Victor stumbled upon a means to create a device that would connect multiple PCs to multiple printers and extend the range of connectivity from 15 feet to 100. The Linksys Multishare was the strike that would ignite the fire Linksys would set to the consumer networking market.

If Victor was responsible for product development and operations at Linksys, Janie was responsible for making Linksys a household name. Janie led sales and marketing at Linksys with an unmatched determination, which led to Linksys becoming an iconic brand for consumers. Linksys products would dominate shelves in retailers such as Fry’s, CompUSA, and Best Buy.

As Linksys began developing new products and innovations, Janie would sign on more distributors and retailers. By the time Linksys released their first wireless router and adaptor, the brand would have their revenue leap from $206.5 million in 2000 to $346.7 million the following year. This leap was all thanks to the established loyalty Linksys had among consumers for being the first provider of networking devices at an affordable price point while utilizing software that was accessible to the average user. The black and blue wireless router we all fondly (or not so fondly) remember is just as much a result of Janie’s entrepreneurial mindset as it is Victor’s ingenuity.

In 2003, the Tsaos would sell Linksys to Cisco Systems for $500 million. Both Janie and Victor would stay on at Cisco as Senior Vice Presidents leading the Linksys division in creating and marketing affordable networking solutions across the world.

Thank you for reading this week’s Prisma Profile. Don’t forget to like, share, and comment with your reaction. How does this profile inspire you?

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