Cisco’s artificial intelligence fund is double the size of similar initiatives for Salesforce Ventures and IBM Ventures, hailing another step in the AI boom.

Image courtesy of Cisco Systems Inc.

Networking technology producer Cisco became the latest corporation to launch a dedicated artificial intelligence fund yesterday, putting $1bn into a vehicle that will be run by its Cisco Investments unit.

The amount is the largest a corporate venture arm has so far committed to a specialist fund, exceeding the $500m provided for Salesforce Ventures’ Generative AI fund and IBM’s Enterprise AI Venture Fund last year.

Cisco unveiled the fund at its Cisco LIVE 2024 event as part of a range of AI-focused initiatives that cover areas including networking, security, work and observability. It was formed to advance innovation in the industry along with customer readiness.

“At Cisco, we believe we are well positioned to be the best strategic partner for our customers in the AI era as they look to build, secure and power AI,” said Mark Patterson, Cisco’s chief strategy officer, in a statement announcing the fund.

“In addition to building essential technology to connect, secure and advance AI, Cisco is committed to investing in the broader AI ecosystem to more effectively meet our customers’ needs.”

Black and gold diagram of the brain incorporating a black-and-white photo of a woman's face


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Almost $200m of the $1bn has already been committed, and the fund’s initial portfolio includes generative AI startups Scale AI, Mistral and Cohere. Cisco Investments took part in Scale’s $1bn series F round two weeks ago and a $450m round for Cohere that was also announced yesterday.

Cisco says it has made more than 20 AI-focused acquisitions and investments in recent years, among them Cogniac, creator of a machine learning analytics platform for video and images, and Securiti, which has developed software to make using data with generative AI safer.

“The establishment of our $1bn AI investment fund is a testament to our commitment to the transformative power of artificial intelligence and its potential to redefine industries globally,” said Derek Idemoto, senior vice-president for Cisco Investments.

“This fund represents our unwavering commitment to AI and innovation, and to the entrepreneurs and visionaries who are defining the next wave of technology.”


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Robert Lavine

Robert Lavine is special features editor for Global Venturing.