Cisco Launches $1B Fund for AI Startups, Immediately Gives Out $200M

Today's tech giants are on a quest to cultivate as much generative AI mindshare as possible, and one way they've been doing that is by throwing billions at startups.

Enterprise networking king Cisco is no different, having either acquired or invested in about 20 companies over the past several years to bolster its own AI chops.

On Tuesday, as part of this effort, the company announced the launch of a $1 billion investment fund, of which $200 million has already been allocated to up-and-coming generative AI startups like Mistral, Cohere and Scale AI.

"This fund represents our unwavering commitment to AI and innovation," said Cisco senior vice president Derek Idemoto in a prepared statement, "and to the entrepreneurs and visionaries who are defining the next wave of technology."

Companies in Cisco's investment portfolio get the benefit of access to Cisco's extensive network of channel partners, direct customers and internal buyers. They will also be able to co-develop solutions with Cisco, incorporating their cutting-edge AI technologies with Cisco's well-established lineup of networking and security products.

These partnerships also serve to raise Cisco's standing in the booming generative AI market.

"It's not just about immediate advancements; it's about laying the foundation for Cisco to be the trusted partner in AI for the long haul," Idemoto said in a separate Q&A blog. "By investing now, we're positioning Cisco at the forefront of AI technology, ensuring that we continue to deliver value and leadership in this dynamic field for years to come."

The three confirmed recipients of the fund have each raked in billions since their respective foundings. Mistral has an estimated valuation approaching $6 billion, Cohere $5 billion and Scale AI $14 billion. (Cisco was already a major backer of Scale AI, having contributed to the startup's $1 billion founding round last month.)

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.