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IT Industry News for September 2010

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for September 2010. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

I think its interesting to look back and see what was news in previous years, and how it might affect news today. Perhaps one of the most noticeable things I see is that some of the most successful and largest companies have a track record of growth through acquisition, and with practice they get very good at it!

Four years ago in September 2006 the big news was the purchase of Freescale Semiconductor by a group of investment firms for $17.6 Billion!  Close on the heels of that deal Motorola bought Symbol for about $4 Billion.  RadioShack also hit the news for firing 400 employees … by email!  Three years ago in September 2007 we saw an investment group buy 3Com for $2.2B and T-Mobile expanded its US marketshare, paying $2.4 Billion for SunCom Wireless Holdings.  The busiest acquirer in that month was Yahoo with three acquisitions Zimbra ($350 Million), BlueLithium ($300 Million) and Participate Media (undisclosed). Two years ago in September 2008 the collapse of investment banks and the potential bailout by the US Government filled the headlines.  There was M&A activity but not on a grand scale … McAfee paid $465 Million for Secure Computing and Microsoft paid $485 million for Greenfield Online … a shopping comparison site.  Perhaps the most interesting purchase was by Best Buy, who paid $120 million for Napster.  Last year in September 2009 the M&A market was busy with Dell paying $3.9 Billion for Perot Systems and Xerox buying ACS for $6.4 Billion.  Ebay sold its majority holding in Skype to a group of investors for $1.9 Billion and Adobe shelled out $1.8 billion for web analytics company Omniture, in addition to buying Business Catalyst.  Nortel sold its Enterprise Solutions unit to Avaya for $915 Million; EMC added a couple of acquisitions, Kazeon Systems and Fastscale technology; Raytheon picked up internet pioneer BBN and CA shelled out $200 million for NetQoS.

The history can be interesting, but it is the present that is most important.  In September 2010 we are still recovering from the economic bombshell (the longest recession since World War 2 according to the US National bureau of Economic Research) with the almost daily reminder that we are not out of the woods yet!  The news continues to be mixed with positive reports from the Canadian Staffing Index (up 4 points in August), the EU GDP growth forecast better than expected, Canada gained almost 36,000 jobs in August and consumer confidence in the US grew.  There were however some negative indicators with the US losing 10,000 private sector jobs in August, the ECRI index of the US economy dropping and Gartner lowering its expectation for PC sales in 2010.  The US did officially announce that the recession ended in June 2009.

HP was back in the news this month with the continuing saga of Mark Hurd, who joined Oracle precipitating a public spat, some negotiation over severance, strained relationships between the companies and a tenuous “kiss and make up”.  HP also announce ex-SAP CEO Leo Apotheker as the new CEO … perhaps a sign their services business might receive some needed attention.  HP were also busy on the acquisition front, winning a drawn out battle to buy 3PAR for an eventual $2.4 Billion.  If that wasn’t enough, they also paid $1.5 Billion for Arcsight.

The other company getting attention this month was IBM, who saw a former top executive and touted future CEO jailed.  Bob Moffat got six months for his part in what was called the largest hedge fund insider trading case in history.  IBM were also on the acquisition trail in September, paying $1.7 Billion for Netezza and also picking up Blade Network technologies.

In other acquisition news this month 3M paid close to $1 Billion for Cogent, RIM bought a substantial part of DataViz, Ericsson beat out a local Ottawa based group in an auction for another piece of the defunct Nortel empire, CA bought Hyperformix; AOL bought TechCrunch and locally to Ottawa Alex Beraskow’s IT/Net was snapped up by KPMG.

That’s what caught my eye over the last month, the full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website. Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the October 2010 industry news in just about a month’s time.