Cisco plans on investing $150 million in startups and early-stage companies over the next few years, provided those recipients use that money to research the Internet of Things, “Big Data,” and other cutting-edge areas.
Cisco clearly hopes that the investment will allow it to capitalize on the Next Big Thing before it hits the market. “Our ability to identify and stay ahead of market disruptions is deeply rooted in our build, buy, partner and integrate approach to innovation,” Hilton Romanski, senior vice president of Cisco Corporate Development, wrote in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We gain valuable insight and an understanding of market trends through equity investments in young and interesting companies.”
According to analysts and pundits, the Internet of Things will join millions (perhaps even billions) of sensor-studded devices into huge networks, which will stream data to analytics tools for further insights. Late last year, research firm Gartner estimated that IT spending on these so-called “smart devices” will eventually hit $4 trillion—a number possible if everything from automobiles and smoke detectors to toys and kitchens become Web-enabled.
Cisco, Intel, General Electric, and other tech and industrial companies stand to benefit from sales of infrastructure necessary to support a massive Internet of Things; software firms are also angling for a piece of that pie, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently telling an audience (according to The New York Times) that his company’s identity and social services “should automatically extend to the Internet of Things.” In light of that, Cisco investing in startups focused on analytics, sensors, and related markets makes total sense: The company wants to stay ahead of what could become fierce competition. Some smaller companies and individual developers could profit immensely from that investment.
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