Doubling down on Israel

By Daniel Karp, Cisco Manager

If you were to conduct a survey at a typically packed Tel-Aviv coffee shop and ask customers about their current occupation, one of the top answers you will undoubtedly receive is “entrepreneur”. If you were to modify the question slightly and ask whether they have been entrepreneurs in the past, or plan on being such in the future, you would likely get affirmative answers from the majority of the people you survey.

Innovation, entrepreneurship and thinking outside-the-box are deeply rooted in the Israeli mindset and are considered an important part of the Israeli culture. Much has been said about the uniquely concentrated technology ecosystem (i.e. the “Startup Nation”), the incredible talent that shaped it into a global innovation hub, and the numerous attributes that make the Israeli community so similar in nature to Silicon Valley.

At Cisco, we are closing in on twenty years of innovation in Israel. Since opening an Israeli office in 1995, Cisco has gone all-in when it comes to Israel. We view Israel as a critical resource of market, technology and business innovation and as a Strategic Center for Cisco. Cisco’s confidence in Israel’s strategic significance is evident from growing our Israeli workforce to the thousands over the years, acquiring eleven Israel-based companies, and investing in over twenty start-ups directly and over 50 indirect investments through venture funds.

As part of these activities, over the years, we’ve built incredible relationships in Israel, with both the entrepreneurial community and the Venture Capital (VC) community. Through our collaboration with the top-tier VCs in Israel, and given our long history of close working relationships with founders and technology thought-leaders, we’ve learned that we are in a unique position and have the foundational basis in place, to take the next step in our commitment to fostering innovation in Israel.

One of the key things we focus on at Cisco Investments is identifying new areas of opportunity for Cisco. Two years ago, we introduced our thematic investment approach to help accelerate the development of disruptive technology markets including Big-Data, Semiconductors and Internet of Things. In recent years, we’ve also come to the realization that the vertical focus can be complemented by a geographical focus in areas of the world that have greatly contributed to Cisco’s success in the past, and where we are well positioned to identify innovation that will accelerate Cisco’s business and technology growth in the future. Israel is an example of such, and so much more.

We are excited to announce our ‘Israel Innovation’ investment theme, focused on innovative start-ups based in Israel. We seek to partner with the very best entrepreneurs who are developing disruptive products and services across Cisco’s areas of focus, such as Internet of Things, Datacenter Systems, Enterprise Software, Cloud, Mobility, Networking, Video, Collaboration or Security. As strategic investors at a global company, with a footprint across multiple verticals, we at Cisco Investments believe we can add value by helping entrepreneurs build companies that will scale. Beyond the invested equity, companies will also benefit from the expertise of our business leaders, engineers, IT department, and our massive network of partners and customers, which we believe will help position them to succeed in the market. We will continue to partner with top VCs and with other strategic investors as we help the Israeli Innovation ecosystem thrive and we take pride in becoming the first multi-national corporation with an Israel Innovation dedicated theme.

As Hilton Romanski wrote, early visibility to innovation is core to Cisco’s success, and at Cisco Investments, we strive to cultivate innovation. Identifying Israel as a key resource for innovation, and executing on that hypothesis, is the next step in that vision. We look forward to learning more about your next great idea.

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