- Taking another step into enterprise collaboration, Cisco announced the acquisition of the artificial intelligence company Accompany for $270 million in cash on Tuesday. Cisco will use the AI-based relationship intelligence platform to bolster its collaboration portfolio, including provider profile data for WebEx meetings, as well as for navigating sales, improving relationships and discovering new prospects.
- Accompany has a database of CEO profiles for Fortune 500 companies and maps out important relationships in corporate networks, according to its website. It was was founded in 2013 and has raised more than $40 million since then, according to Crunchbase.
- Amy Chang, founder and CEO of Accompany, well step down from her position on the board of Cisco and instead join the company as SVP of the Collaboration Technology Group. Current head of the group, Rowan Trollope, will depart Cisco to become CEO at Five9.
Cisco has led in enterprise networking hardware for years, but the acquisition of Accompany demonstrates that the company is increasing investments on the software side too and looking to provide more than just a platform. Artificial intelligence is the key to making sense of the complex web of company networks and relationships.
Companies across industries are infusing AI and ML capabilities throughout business and product lines, often through M&A activity, stretching the thin pool of AI talent even further. Of the 115 AI startups that exited for the first time in 2017, 115 were acquired, according to CBInsights. By comparison, in 2016 only 80 AI startups exited.
Big technology firms such as Google, Facebook and Apple have led AI acquisitions for years — but the buyer pool is expanding.
AI M&A activity is expanding beyond big fields like autonomous driving and computer vision and moving to more specific applications in industry verticals, according to IDG Connect, opening up more acquisition opportunities for companies like Cisco.