Jon Koplin, managing director EMEA, Cisco Investments and Corporate Development, is one of our top Emerging Leaders for 2024.

Kopin’s role is different than most regional heads of corporate venture capital units, in that he is actively involved with mergers and acquisitions as well as with venture investments.

Most corporates keep M&A and venturing teams separate, but at Cisco both are embedded in the same unit. Team members do both M&A and venture investing. “I joke that I actually wear two uniforms when I come to work. I wear a suit when I do M&A and I wear a hoodie when I do venture,” Koplin says.

Koplin, who has been at Cisco for the past seven years, has been spending an increasing amount of time on cybersecurity as the sector is becoming one of the leading business units at Cisco. Other sectors he spends time on include silicon and optics, observability, collaboration, and networking technologies.

Most recently, Jon has led the investment into cybersecurity startup Binaylze, as well as the acquisition efforts for Smartlook, SamKnows and Code BGP.

A new area for Cisco is sustainability investments, for which Jon is the global lead. This sector includes materials or technologies that reduce energy use and the carbon footprint of data centres, with the goal of accelerating Cisco’s net zero transition.  Typically, the team’s investment efforts focus on series A and B stage startups.

“The mission of the venture unit is to prioritise strategic return,” says Koplin. The team “effectively partners with the business units,” he says. “We’re working with all the top-level executives and then we diver deeper into various areas to get help from engineering and technical resources when we’re doing due diligence.”

Koplin says this close contact with business units means “we’re almost like part of their strategy leadership team.”

See the full list of GCV Emerging Leaders for 2024 here.