IT Industry News
December 2014 was not such a slow news month, with the political and technical ramifications of "the Sony hack" causing uproar, some very positive economic indicators out of the US and some big names making acquisitions, albeit not huge deals. The Sony hack had lots of press, political intervention, hackers, politicians, movies stars and errant executive emails. It was almost a soap opera! Different hacking activity on the German Chancellor's phone last year (by an intelligence agency) might be good news for Blackberry, who received backing from the German government for voice encryption on their devices. IDC produced a report about the economic benefits of offshoring and there were a couple of reports showing the cost of cybercrime. On the M&A front it was surprisingly active, with Microsoft making two acquisitions, the $200 million purchase of mobile email app startup Acompli and mobile development company HockeyApp (which has nothing to do with hockey). SAP bought travel and expense management company Concur; Intel bought a Montreal-based identity management company PasswordBox; Oracle bought digital marketing company Datalogix; Teradata bought data archiving company Rainstor; and MongoDB bought high-scale storage engine company WiredTiger. All of the indicators coming from the US were very positive, including jobs data, confidence indicators and GDP results. The Canadian indicators were not as positive, although they could certainly have been worse. Of course all of these indicators happened before oil dropped below $50, so we will see what effect that has in the coming months!
The biggest deal of November saw two semiconductor companies merge, Cypress Semiconductor and Spansion to form a $4 billion company. There were also deals by Carlyle Group, Yahoo, and BT. In the economy, Canada added 43,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.5%, plus one study suggests that IT spending will increase by 3.3% to greater than $1 billion. On another positive note, Ontario might benefit from investment by Chinese company Huawei Technologies to the tune of 325 jobs. Finally a study in the UK suggests that many (mostly low paying) jobs will be replaced by automation over the next 20 years.October 2014
October 2014 brought a new trend, with two public companies both choosing to split into smaller entities. HP created business service focused Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and personal computing & printer company HP Inc. Symantec is also choosing to split into two independent public companies, one focused on business and consumer security products, the other on its information management portfolio. Other interesting news saw IBM pay $1.5 billion for GlobalFoundries to take away its money losing semiconductor manufacturing business. NEST bought out competitor Revolv, just to eliminate competition; EMC bought three cloud companies, The Cloudscaling Group, Maginatics and Spanning Cloud Apps; and in Korea, Kakao and Daum merged to form a $2.9 billion internet entity. In other news, Panasonic is teamed with Tesla on the development of new battery technology; Microsoft continued with its planned layoffs, shedding another 3,000 jobs this month; and the Canadian Federal Government reported that there were 228 data breaches in the last year, twice as many as reported the previous year. JP Morgan revealed that they lost personal information on 83 million accounts in the same month that a British survey revealed that more than half the people in Britain have been the victim of online crime! Surveys and economic data in North America suggest that generally things are going well, good GDP results, decent employment reports and fairly positive sentiments in surveys would suggest that something is going right. Overall the US results seemed more positive than the Canadian results, but the general tone was good.September 2014
September 2014 saw some big deals announced, including Microsoft's $2.5 billion purchase of gaming company Mojang (makers of Minecraft), Lenovo's $2.1 billion purchase of IBM's x86 server business and Cognizant's $2.7 billion purchase of healthcare company, Trizetto Corp. Hootsuite had an injection of cash and bought two companies, social telephony company Zeetl and social media marketing platform Brightkit. Google also made two acquisitions: biotech company Lift Labs and desktop polling company Polar. There were plenty more deals announced, including Yahoo's $8 million purchase of cloud-based document hosting company Bookpad; Cisco's purchase of private cloud company Metacloud; SAP's purchase of expense software company Concur; Blackberry's purchase of virtual identity software startup Movirtu; and Red Hat's purchase of mobile app company FeedHenry. Other than M&A news, the Canadian government seem to be heading down a harsh path with HP based on activity in Russia by an HP subsidiary. Larry Ellison has passed his CEO of Oracle role along to dual CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd; hopefully they fare better than Blackberry's former co-CEOs. The "always connected" PC seems to be on its way, which could prove handy for many situations. US economic news, studies, surveys and reports all seem to be positive which is good news for that economy. Canada is a little more mixed with an 11,000 drop in jobs in August; however, upcoming job prospects seem to look good according to some surveys.August 2014
August 2014 saw some generally positive news from the various surveys and statistics reported. Statistics Canada had an uncharacteristic hiccup but finally reported a drop in the unemployment rate and an increase in jobs. In the US, almost all indicators were positive, including reasonable GDP growth, improved unemployment rate and hiring outlooks. The Eurozone also showed improvement in its unemployment figures with the UK hitting a six year low last quarter. Getting some negative press were a couple of big names, Cisco announced it was cutting 6,000 jobs (of which 2,000 would be rehired in different positions) and Oracle was sued by the State of Oregon over its health insurance portal. On the M&A front there were no blockbuster deals this month; however, a number of big name companies were out with their cheque books. Intel paid $650 million for the LSI Axxia networking chip business; VMware bought application delivery provider CloudVolumes; IBM bought Lighthouse Security Group to bolster its cloud-based identity and access management capabilities; Google bought two startups, Emu to boost its messagingcaabilities and Directr for its video advertising business; Facebook bought a security startup Privatecore, and the last BIG name saw Yahoo buying app company Zofari. It appears that the big companies keep getting bigger, which is the way that the business world works!July 2014
July 2014 had plenty of positive news including positive growth in PC sales after eight years of decline!. In Canada, the manufacturer's index, retail sales and projected IT hiring were all good news stories; however, the unemployment rate edged up and Canada lost 9,400 jobs in June. Most indicators coming out of the US were positive, including strong GDP growth, job growth, confidence indicators (except CEOs) and the US leading index. There was even a positive economic outlook for Mexico... so lots of good news. On the M&A front there was a lot of activity but no real blockbuster deals. After a long period of struggle, a positive sign saw Blackberry announce an acquisition of encryption company Secusmart GmbH. Oracle bought cloud services company TOA Technologies; Twitter bought a startup Madbits, a company that focuses on the media space; Yahoo also bought a startup Flurry in the mobile apps space; Teradata bought a couple of smaller big data companies, Hadapt and Revelytix; Apple bought a couple of smaller books & podcast companies Booklamp and Concept.io; Qualcomm education company EmpoweredU; and finally Nokia continue to rebuild after selling its devices and handsets business to Microsoft, this time buying Panasonic's 3G and LTE base station operations division. Speaking of Microsoft buying Nokia's devices and handset division, the company announced that they would be laying off 18,000 people related to that deal. July also saw a fairly interesting partnership, with IBM and Apple combining to offer enterprise solutions... who knows maybe we'll see Google and Amazon collaborating next?