26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Derek Idemoto, senior VP of corporate development, Cisco Investments

Derek Idemoto is senior vice-president (VP) of corporate development and Cisco Investments (CI), networking equipment manufacturer Cisco’s corporate venture capital (CVC) subsidiary. He oversees external innovation through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and investments after former unit head Rob Salvagno left in February 2020.

Since joining Cisco in 2007, Idemoto has led over 30 M&A transactions totalling over $15bn. Most recently, he facilitated the $2.3bn acquisition of cloud-based authentication software provider Duo Security in 2018.

In 2019, he also led Cisco’s acquisitions of Cisco Investments’ former portfolio companies: dictation software developer Voicea and customer experience software provider CloudCherry.

After Idemoto took over Cisco Investments, the unit has invested in data management software provider Cohesity in April 2020, having also incorporated it to Cisco GPL (Global Price List) tool to enable customers to consolidate secondary data silos on Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System).

“Cisco has a solid reputation as a prolific corporate investor and acquirer,” Idemoto said. “We are a company that values and embraces tech outside of our walls.”

He tripled the Cisco Investments group including the portfolio development team in the past year, and noted for the rest of 2020 will be to continue to deepen Cisco’s engagement within the startup ecosystem.

He added: “Moreover, we will continue to consistently apply our highest standard to every acquisition and investment that we do. We recently celebrated our 216th acquisition since Cisco’s inception as an enterprise leader. We have over 120 disruptive startup companies in our portfolio, along with 45 limited partner (LP) positions in 47 countries.

“We are a foundational LP in Decibel, the first independent early-stage VC implemented by a major technology company, which Cisco announced last year. We have a significant LP position in Digital Alpha, where we are looking at smart cities, the internet of things and large-scale data centre solutions aimed at building in-country, sovereign cloud environments. These are just a few of the achievements I am proud that our corporate development and Cisco Investments teams have accomplished.”

His new role also entailed a fresh set of challenges and new perspectives. “The pain point and opportunity are sometimes one in the same,” he suggested, “the balance of doing deals that are good for the business while also being a stretch for the business.

“Doing deals that only the business unit (BU) wants to do negates new challenges and possibilities for overall company growth. At the same time, it is crucial to maintain close ties with the BUs in accordance with the current strategy and capabilities.

“Taking a holistic market view and staying true to your principles makes the difference in establishing equilibrium in corporate venturing. This has consistently been our approach for decades, due to Cisco’s company culture of valuing external innovation and our holistic approach within the corporate development team of balancing both M&A and venture.”

All CVCs play a role in fostering diversity and inclusion, according to Idemoto, who said: “These are important factors shaping the entire startup ecosystem, both now and in the future. Having a field of diverse backgrounds, thoughts and ideas help to accelerate and spur innovation.

“Investing in smaller funds and supporting individuals with diverse networks would go a long way in helping evolve the entire technology industry for the better. Cisco made a number of diversity investments in the past year, including aCrew and Plexo Captial. We want to be recognised not just as an enterprise IT leader, but a champion for investment opportunities for startups founded by women and minorities.”

Before joining Cisco, Idemoto had been managing director of venture investment for Itochu Technology, the CVC arm of diversified trading firm Itochu Corporation, for nearly three years from 2005 where he conducted IT deals for the Japan-headquartered corporate.

Idemoto earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of California (UC) Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and studied an MBA at UC, Los Angeles’s Anderson School of Management.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF