The top 25: 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.

Since joining Cisco in 2007, Idemoto has led over 30 M&A transactions totalling over $15bn. Prior to taking his current role, 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.

In the past few months, the unit backed rounds raised by cloud-native authorisation software developer Styra, cybersecurity monitoring software provider Panaseer, manufacturing and industrial internet of things analytics software provider Seeq and digital risk protection management software provider SafeGuard Cyber.

AI-infused cybersecurity and data protection infrastructure provider Securiti, cybersecurity collaboration technology provider ThreatQuotient, speech recognition technology developer Uniphore, network security software developer Valtix and data storage platform developer Dremio.

“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.

“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.”

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, 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.