More Evidence Of The Rising Interest In Corporate Venturing And M&A

I’m not the first to observe that corporations, particularly those connected to technology, are ramping up their investment and M&A programs.

But here is more evidence of the trend and some naming of names. I stopped by the Plug and Play Tech Center on Thursday afternoon for a program on corporate venture, and one company after another claimed their efforts were on the rise.

Included on the list were Salesforce.com, Adobe Systems and Cisco Systems. Even Johnson & Johnson talked about its efforts to fuel innovation and potentially pull the most attractive companies in house.

The reason is obvious. Technological progress in social, mobile, e-commerce and elsewhere is moving along a rapid clip and corporations don’t want to be left behind.

So what are they looking for? Strategic fit is one thing. The management and technical team is another.

At Salesforce.com, activity is on the rise, says Avanish Sahai, a company vice president. The company has become more involved on the M&A and investment fronts with the goal of accelerating innovation, he said.

Adobe, too, has a more active pace when there is a strategic fit with the startup, said Kristina Omari, a vice president of corporate development (pictured).

This fit is of particular interest when it involves digital media and digital market, she said. Still, the software developer does only a handful of investments each year.

For its part, Cisco has clearly become more focused over the past two to five years, offered Zeeshan Najmuddin, head of global architecture programs. In M&A, where Cisco has long been aggressive, cross-function teams work at integration.

With investing, “I would say there is more science behind it” than before, says Najmuddin.

Finding technology to bring in house is a key motivation for Johnson & Johnson. “We’re obviously trying to invest in order to acquire some of these companies,” says Rami Elghandour, a principal for venture investments.

Photo taken by Mark Boslet

Disclosure: Mark Boslet owns shares of Cisco Systems

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