20VC: Inside The Acquisition Decision-Making Process at Cisco, How To Measure True Success in M&A Evaluation & Why By Not Speaking To Corp Dev Teams You Are Closing The Door On The Biggest Potential Accelerator To Your Business with Rob Salvagno, VP of Corporate Development and Cisco Investments
Posted on 30th December 2019 by Harry
Rob Salvagno is VP of Corporate Development and Cisco Investments at Cisco, where he is responsible for leading all M&A efforts as well as managing Cisco’s strategic venture capital which invests hundreds of millions of dollars annually. At Cisco, Rob led the $1.2 billion acquisition of Meraki, one of the most successful platform acquisitions in Cisco’s history, and the $3.7 billion acquisition of AppDynamics, cementing Cisco’s place in the business intelligence, analytics and IT operations market. Most recently, Rob engineered the $2.3 billion acquisition of Duo, the leading provider of unified access security and multi-factor authentication delivered through the cloud. Prior to the world of M&A, Rob was a technology investment banker at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
1.) How Rob made his way from investment banking to leading the M&A and venture activity for one of the world’s largest tech players of the last decade?
2.) How do M&A teams like to get to know startups that they could invest in or acquire? How does Rob like to work with the venture ecosystem? How does Rob think on Paul Graham’s comment of “do not talk to corp dev”? What are the nuances here? How does it differ for consumer vs enterprise?
3.) How does Rob define true success when it comes to M&A evaluation? Should corp dev be strategy first or transaction first? What have been Rob’s biggest lessons on successful integration? Where do so many go wrong with integration post M&A? What questions can be asked ahead of time to know if integration and culture will be a fit?
4.) How does Rob reflect on his own price sensitivity today? How does Rob feel about the multiples enterprise companies are currently trading at? What have Rob’s most successful acquisitions taught him about price and price sensitivity? How does Rob deal with the inherent conflict of investing and also acquiring companies? How does he communicate that to the companies he invests in?
5.) What does the acquisition-decision making process look like at Cisco? How does it differ on a deal by deal basis? What do Cisco do to allow them to move so much faster than any other M&A teams? What have been Rob’s lessons on the importance of speed in winning the best transactions?