Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals

This is the first month in more than 25 years that John Chambers isn't heading into work at Cisco. Instead, he tells Axios that he is refashioning himself as full-time a venture capitalist.

Why it matters: Cisco revenue climbed from $1.2 billion when Chambers took over as CEO in 1995 to $47 billion in 2015 when he transitioned into an executive chairman role.

Chambers just launched JC2 Ventures, which he says is as much about CEO mentoring as it is about investment. The self-funded firm, which also includes son John (ex-marketing exec at Houzz, Netflix & Walmart), already has backed such companies as Airware, Aspire Food Group and Sprinklr.

The goal, he says, is to back at least a dozen companies that can be the leader in their market and eventually go public (which he believes is a prerequisite for substantial job creation).

Some quotes from Chambers, per a conversation yesterday:

  • “This is the next chapter in my career… It makes me tremendously excited. And I’m also more relaxed because I can sleep through the night without getting a text about a customer problem or personnel problem or something else at Cisco.”
  • “I don’t think large global companies will add headcount over the next decade, so the question for all countries has to be about how to kickstart the startup engine. Governments need to champion startups as the future, like we’ve seen in France and India… We [in the U.S.] shouldn’t feel any entitlement.”
  • “It’s interesting to watch and work with CEOs. With very few exceptions, an engineering lead as CEO doesn’t understand sales or go-to-market. Same thing when you have a business leader; he doesn’t know how to judge incoming engineers. And most of them don’t initially understand how important culture is.”
  • “I think there are going to be many creative ways of raising funding, and ICOs speak to how the NASDAQ and NYSE will have to evolve.”

Go deeper

Fed chair says low interest rates aren't driving stock market prices

Jerome Powell. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / Getty Images

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told reporters on Wednesday that rock-bottom interest rates aren't playing a role in driving stock prices higher, while noting that vulnerabilities to the financial system are "moderate."

Why it matters: The statement comes amid unshakeable stock prices and a Reddit-fueled market frenzy — prompting widespread fears of a bubble and the role monetary policy has played in that.

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).