• Company is seeking ‘secure and reliable’ AI services
  • Cisco has already invested in Mistral AI and Scale AI

Cisco Systems Inc. plans to invest $1 billion in startups that are working on what it calls “secure and reliable” artificial intelligence services, part of a push to be a bigger player in AI technology.

The maker of networking hardware and software has already committed about $200 million of the money and is making investments in Mistral AI, Scale AI Inc. and Cohere Inc., the company said Tuesday at its Cisco Live conference in Las Vegas.

Like other Silicon Valley mainstays, Cisco is looking for ways to tap into the frenzy of interest in AI computing. It’s already incorporated the software into some products, including its well-known Webex conferencing service, and has announced a tie-up with Nvidia Corp. to sell products based on that company’s chips.

Beyond investing in AI startups, Cisco plans to team up with these companies, according to Chief Strategy Officer Mark Patterson. That may mean using their technology in its own lineup and helping sell the services to corporate clients and government agencies.

“AI is reshaping every industry across the globe at an unprecedented pace,” Patterson said in an interview. “Some of the investments that we’re going to make will be followed by some partnership agreements.”

Cisco is spending heavily on AI, including internal research projects, he said. The San Jose, California-based company has made seven related acquisitions and 11 investments, he added.

Mistral is a French startup founded by former Meta Platforms Inc. and Google DeepMind employees that develops AI models. Scale AI, based in San Francisco, focuses on the preparation of data for use in training AI software. Cohere, based in Toronto, offers AI software that can understand the content of text and generate responses that appear natural.

Written by:  @Bloomberg

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