Cisco Pumping $2 Billion Into South Korean Tech Firms - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
9/8/2009
03:18 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Cisco Pumping $2 Billion Into South Korean Tech Firms

Looking to get in early on dynamic new businesses and technologies while also boosting its Asia/Pacific revenue, Cisco has invested $32 million in a South Korean tech-centric private-equity firm as part of a 5-year strategy to invest $2 billion in that company's tech sector.

Looking to get in early on dynamic new businesses and technologies while also boosting its Asia/Pacific revenue, Cisco has invested $32 million in a South Korean tech-centric private-equity firm as part of a 5-year strategy to invest $2 billion in that company's tech sector.From a Seeking Alpha.com report on Cisco's $32 million investment in SkyLake Incuvest:

SkyLake is engaged in funding technology companies through contributions in the form of private equity investments. Its recent investments include Viatron Technologies, which is focused on heat processing technologies for displays; DASAN Networks, a subsidiary of Nokia Siemens Networks, which makes switching and fiber-to-the-home equipment; and Wemade Entertainment Co., which develops online games.

A look at the technologies being developed by some of SkyLake's portfolio companies reflects Cisco's desire to extend its reach beyond the traditional networking gear that has made it one of the most powerful IT companies in the world: heat-processing technologies for displays, fiber to the home, and online video games. Not exactly the stuff of hubs and routers, is it?

Cisco's expansion into a variety of businesses-from storage and servers for the enterprise market to flip-cams for the consumer market-triggered a recent Global CIO column in which I wrote an open letter to Cisco CEO John Chambers and asked, "What business is Cisco in today?" The column went on to ask other questions about how Chambers-widely regarded as one of the top CEOs of the past 20 years-intends to tie all of those disparate ventures together into a strategic package.

The South Korean venture by Cisco into emerging technologies can help the company with two strategic objectives: first, it begins to enhance Cisco's current and future presence in the Asia/Pacific region, which despite being a huge technology market accounted for only 11% of Cisco's 2008 revenue; and second, it gives Cisco early, up-close, and extensive insights into new markets, products, technologies and customers that will be needed to fuel the company's growth into the future.

According to the SeekingAlpha.com piece, which was written by Zacks.com, Cisco is looking to spread some risk as it spreads its influence around the globe:

Cisco's strategy is to enter new markets through joint ventures and gradually build its position in the area. This way, significant investment is avoided and risks are shared until the company's products reach critical mass. Afterwards, Cisco either makes some direct investment or strategic acquisitions, or both, leveraging off its previous experience in the region.

South Korea is the third Asian country to receive particular focus, following India and China.

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