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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Mike Volpi, 32

Cisco Systems

In his job as senior vice president for business development and global alliances at Cisco Systems, Mike Volpi has developed a habit of collecting things--things like high-tech startups. In five years at Cisco, the leading maker of network routers, Volpi has been instrumental in that company’s acquisition of 34 companies. In his vigorous appetite for bringing smaller outfits into the Cisco fold, Volpi has developed a new model for corporate R&D: If you see a budding technology you like, don’t copy it--buy its origination. This way, Cisco gets the technology ahead of its competition, and the founders of the startup get Cisco stock (which has performed phenomenally in recent years) as well as Cisco’s powerful marketing muscle. Volpi’s acquisitions make him one of "the most influential dealmakers in technology, giving him,in many ways, more power than the myriad investment bankers and venture capitalists plying their trade in Silicon Valley," wrote The New York Timeslast year. Born in Milan, raised in Tokyo and educated at U.S. universities (including an MBA from Stanford), Volpi demonstrates that innovations in ways of doing business can shape the technology landscape just as surely as dramatic new findings from the lab bench.

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