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Cisco Launches $1 Billion Fund for AI Startups


On Tuesday, Cisco Systems unveiled a bold move into the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) investment, announcing the establishment of a $1 billion fund aimed at supporting emerging AI startups. This initiative places Cisco among the ranks of major technology players racing to secure positions in the burgeoning AI market.

Through its investment arm, Cisco plans to inject capital into promising AI ventures, with initial commitments totaling nearly $200 million. Among the early beneficiaries of Cisco’s backing are Cohere, Mistral AI, and Scale AI, underscoring the company’s commitment to nurturing innovation in the AI space.

Scale AI, a data startup specializing in AI applications, has captured significant attention, boasting a valuation of nearly $14 billion. Meanwhile, Cohere and Mistral, developers of foundational AI models, are reportedly in negotiations to secure funding rounds valued at $5 billion each. These “foundation models” form the bedrock of AI systems, leveraging vast datasets to enable applications across diverse industries and use cases.

The announcement from Cisco follows a trend set by industry giants like Microsoft and Meta, formerly known as Facebook, who have fervently pursued investments in AI startups since the watershed moment of OpenAI‘s ChatGPT launch in 2022. Amazon, another tech titan, has also joined the fray, recognizing the transformative potential of AI-driven technologies.

Cisco’s foray into AI investment complements its extensive history of strategic acquisitions and investments in the AI sphere. With over 20 AI-focused ventures under its belt in recent years, Cisco has steadily advanced the frontiers of generative AI and machine learning. Moreover, the company has prioritized the seamless integration of AI capabilities across its product portfolio, signaling a concerted effort to harness the power of AI for business innovation and growth.

In a statement, Cisco reaffirmed its commitment to driving AI innovation, expressing enthusiasm for the transformative impact of AI technologies on industries worldwide. As the race for AI supremacy intensifies, Cisco’s substantial investment signals its intent to position itself at the forefront of AI-driven disruption, poised to shape the future of technology in the years to come.

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