Cisco acquires artificial intelligence specialist MindMeld for $125M, furthers software-focused strategy

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Cisco is continuing its buying spree by acquiring artificial intelligence (AI) vendor MindMeld for $125 million, a move that signals the routing giant’s ongoing move to transform itself into a software-focused company.

San Francisco-based MindMeld has developed a conversational platform based on natural language understanding (NLU).

MindMeld will further Cisco’s move to incorporate AI into its platforms. The vendor has been incorporating AI into its security, orchestration, application performance and collaboration products.

RELATED: Cisco acquires Viptela for $610M, enhances SD-WAN play

Besides MindMeld, Cisco also purchased SD-WAN player Viptela and signed an agreement to purchase Saggezza’s advanced analytics team.

Rob Salvagno, VP of corporate business development for Cisco, said in a blog post MindMeld is in line with its software strategy.

“This acquisition, Cisco’s third in two weeks, represents how the buy pillar of our innovation strategy continues to impact our strategic shift to become more of a software company,” Salvagno said.

MindMeld, which originally went by the name Expect Labs, initially focused on building an iPad app that could listen into consumer conversations and provide relevant contextual information, according to TechCrunch. Over time, the company has expanded its offerings to include a suite of APIs for parsing, reasoning about and generating language.

A key element of MindMeld’s AI approach is a machine-learning platform that can ingest customer data and create a highly accurate and customized natural language model, tailored to any company’s industry and requirements. Additionally, MindMeld offers a dialog manager that enables a computer to respond to user requests through chat and voice applications in a human-like fashion.

“With MindMeld, we will enhance our Collaboration suite, adding new conversational interfaces to our collaboration products starting with Cisco Spark,” Salvagno said.

Upon completing the acquisition, the MindMeld team will form the Cognitive Collaboration team and report into the IoT and Applications group.

While it will take time to assess how much of an impact its recent acquisitions will have on ensuring Cisco’s success in the software space, it’s clear they are making progress.

Cisco isn’t going to release its third quarter fiscal year earnings until next week, but the vendor reported in its fiscal second quarter 2017 51% year-over-year growth in its product deferred revenue related to recurring software and subscriptions.