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Cisco leaps ahead in AI with Accompany deal

As Cisco continues its journey from hardware to software, the tech giant will be bringing onboard Accompany, whose technology helps users find new prospects and improve their sale process by using artificial intelligence to gather information from across the internet.

Cisco is paying $270 million for the Californian startup that was co-founded in 2013 by CEO Amy Chang, formerly head of Product at Google Ads Measurement. Accompany has received a total of $40.6 million in VC funding from among others Ignition Partners, CRV, ICONIQ Capital and Cowboy Ventures.

Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, said to ‘The Street’ that Accompany is “the LinkedIn killer”, as the service is also used to prepare bios to give executives the information they need ahead of meetings or conversations. Cisco said in a statement that

“Accompany’s AI technology and talent will help [us] accelerate priority areas across its collaboration portfolio, such as providing user and company profile data in Webex meetings.”

Cisco should already be familiar with Accompany as Chang has been on Cisco’s board of directors since 2016 (she has now resigned from the board as part of the deal). Chang, who has compared her company to being akin to a digital chief of staff, is now joining Cisco as part of the deal.

“Enterprise applications are rapidly becoming more intelligent and augmented with data and pertinent information in real-time,”

said Chang, adding that her company’s “relationship intelligence” capability will combine well with Cisco’s collaboration product portfolio.

This is a promising deal for Cisco – Accompany is clearly a very innovative startup that’s trying to do things that no one has fully succeeded at yet, in part because the field is still emerging. While the details of what the AI solution will look like remains a moving target, Accompany has as good a shot as anyone to figure this out. This deal is providing Cisco with some valuable potential in the rapidly developing field of AI, and we expect the company will benefit from being an early mover down the line.

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