The digital communications tech giant Cisco is acquiring the cybersecurity software firm Splunk in a $28 billion deal meant to boost its software business with new AI-enabled security technology. The largest deal in Cisco’s history, it adds to a slew of recent acquisitions that company has made in the AI and software security space this year.
“We’re excited to bring Cisco and Splunk together. Our combined capabilities will drive the next generation of AI-enabled security and observability,” Chuck Robbins, chair and CEO of Cisco, said in a statement announcing the deal. “From threat detection and response to threat prediction and prevention, we will help make organizations of all sizes more secure and resilient.”
The $157 per share all cash acquisition price for Splunk represents a roughly 30% premium to its Wednesday closing price. Wedbush’s Dan Ives said that the deal values Splunk at roughly six times its fiscal 2025 revenues.
“We view this as a fair multiple for this strategic asset,” he wrote in a Thursday note. “Cisco is focused on the next generation of AI-enabled security and observability and Splunk’s well regarded unique platform makes this the right move at the right time.”
Splunk shares rose roughly 21% in early morning trading to just under $145, while Cisco shares slipped around 4% to just above $53 after the deal was announced. Splunk, founded in 2003, is a cybersecurity company that offers software to help businesses manage, monitor, and analyze machine-generated data to prevent hacks and fix technical issues. Cisco, founded in 1984, is a tech conglomerate with a number of businesses, but it focuses on selling telecommunications and networking equipment, along with complementary software.
Ives added that he doesn’t foresee any regulatory issues or other problems blocking the deal, calling it “well-designed.” Due to the structure of the acquisition contract, if either company backs out of the deal for any reason, they’ll have to pay a sizable fee. Cisco would need to pay Splunk $1.48 billion, and Splunk would have to pay Cisco $1 billion, according to an SEC filing.
Ives said the acquisition was a “shot across the bow” of other cybersecurity firms, including Zscaler, Palo Alto Networks, and Crowdstrike, who will now have greater competition. And he argued it may spark a “massive wave” of mergers and acquisitions over the next six to nine months in the broader tech space as larger firms compete in the AI and cyber security arms races.
“For Robbins and Cisco there is a window of opportunity to make sure that Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Amazon, Adobe, IBM and others do not own the next wave of AI driven software/cyber security and this was a well-designed strategic poker move that caught the Street off guard,” he said, calling Splunk “a great unique software asset at a fair multiple.”
Gary Steele, president and CEO of Splunk, who will be joining Cisco’s executive leadership team and reporting to Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins after the acquisition is finalized, said the deal represents the “next phase” of Splunk’s growth journey in a Thursday statement.
“Together, we will form a global security and observability leader that harnesses the power of data and AI to deliver excellent customer outcomes and transform the industry,” he added.
In a follow-up interview with CNBC Thursday, Steele explained that the deal with Cisco represents a “great outcome for shareholders” and that the two companies’ operations fit well together, using the classic “synergies” line.
“Everybody’s super excited about this, we just think we can drive an incredible tremendous amount of opportunity in the market,” he added.