Cisco tops table in decade of acquisitions

Cisco Systems, the world’s largest computer networking equipment maker, acquired the most venture-backed companies in the last decade, statistics have disclosed.

Dow Jones’ VentureSource industry tracker shows that Cisco made 48 acquisitions between the start of 2000 and the end of last year, way ahead of second place IBM, which acquired 35 start-ups. Microsoft came in at third with 30 acquisitions during the decade.

Major deals involving Cisco included the purchase of LAN switching firm Arrowpoint Communications for $5.7 billion (£3.6 billion) in 2000, digital cable provider Scientific-Atlanta for $6.9 billion (£4.3 billion) three years later and web conferencing business WebEx for $3.2 billion (£2 billion) in 2007.

The VentureSource index was dominated by major IT organisations, with Google, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard among those also appearing, underlining the nature of an industry that demands constant development and innovation.

Despite heading up the leader board for the decade, Cisco saw a slowdown in deal activity last year, making just two acquisitions in 2009, compared to enterprise software provider Oracle, which made five.

Both Cisco and Oracle have begun this decade in similar fashion to the last, with reports suggesting the former has acquired data centre and cloud security start-up Rohati Systems, while the latter this week announced a deal to acquire data quality firm Silver Creek Systems.

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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