Cisco announced today the launch of a venture capital initiative aimed at Russia's burgeoning tech industry.
The first to grab Cisco's rubles is e-tailer Ozon.ru, Russia's largest online retailer. The site is the most highly-trafficked Russian-language online store, specializing in books, music, movies and electronics.
Cisco would not reveal the size of the investment, but Cisco rep Ron Piovesan said it is a part of an overall investment round of $18m from Cisco, Holtzbrinck Ventures and European-based Index Ventures.
The investment will help develop Ozon's logistics system, expand its product lines and establish new distribution centers in Russia.
"While Russia has low Internet penetration in terms of percentage of its overall population, in absolute terms it has as many Internet users as some Western European countries," said Cisco Russia VP Bob Agee. "The amount of technical talent in Russia shows that the country is ready to become more technologically advanced."
Cisco has been eying Russia since last year when it hired a full-time investment manager based in Moscow. Over the past decade, the company has deployed over $1bn in venture capital around the world. Cisco operatives are stationed all over Europe and Asia looking for pies the company can get a piece of — investment managers who answer only to God (and their regional managers) are located in Hong Kong, Bangalore, Bedfont Lakes, and Tel Aviv.
Cisco looks for companies that either offer an interesting technology, will help expand a market or have a compelling business model that can help Cisco learn about local market conditions, Piovesan said. ®