Cisco’s Head Dealmaker on Viptela, AppDynamics, Silicon and “Needle-Moving M&A”

By Erin Griffin at Fortune

Cisco is an acquisition machine, having done nearly 200 deals in its history. The company’s last minute acquisition of AppDynamics in January is arguably the most exciting deal of 2017. On Monday, the company announced its second deal of the year, paying $610 million acquisition of Viptela, a cloud-based SD-WAN company based in San Jose. (Fortune’s Jonathan Vanian has more about that deal here.)

Over two interviews, Fortune spoke with Rob Salvagno, head of corporate development and Cisco investments, about Viptela, valuations, “needle-moving M&A,” and why Cisco is one of the few players still investing in silicon. The conversation as been lightly edited for clarity and length.

This is the fourth installment in Term Sheet’s series of interviews with dealmakers at the tech industry’s most active acquirers. See past interviews with dealmakers at Microsoft, Google and Salesforce.

Fortune: What was so compelling about Viptela, and how does it fit into Cisco’s strategy?

Rob Salvagno: We’re seeing a big inflection point in the market. I would make it analogous to some of the changes we saw in the data centers five-plus yeas ago when SDN [software-defined networking] was a big trend within the data center. We have been following this market transition for awhile. We have made some other investments in the space. We felt now was the time the market itself has reached an inflection point. Cisco has some of its own offerings in the space, but we felt we needed to accelerate and complete our portfolio and that’s what attracted us to Viptela.

Have you invested in any companies that compete with Viptela?

The SD-WAN [software-defined wide area network] space has attracted a lot of venture money, so I want to say there are more than a dozen companies we are tracking in this space. We made an investment in a company called VeloCloud 18 months ago. It’s a big space. We felt Viptela was best suited for what we wanted to own.

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