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March Tech News

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This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for March 2016. 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.

A Little History of March in previous years…

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Five years ago, March 2011 saw Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear woes.  On the tech front Montreal’s Radian6 was snapped up by for about $276 million; Facebook made a couple of acquisitions in the mobile space Snaptu and Beluga; YouTube paid about $50 million for Next New Networks; McAfee bought database security firm Sentrigo; Cisco bought portal company newScale; Teradata bought data analytics startup Aster data … a continuation of the consolidation in the red hot data space; and OpenText bought a mobile app development tool vendor WeComm. 

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In March 2012 there was some activity with a couple of (then) young companies receiving significant capital — Appirio ($60 million) and Hootsuite ($20 million).  Cisco made a couple of acquisitions, paying a whopping $5 billion for video software and content company NDS Group in addition to a smaller network management buy, ClearAccess.  NEC paid $450 million for the information management business of Convergys and Avaya paid $230 million for an Israeli videoconferencing and telepresence company Radvision.  Other companies on the acquisition trail were DELL, EMC, SafeNet, Avnet and The Utility Company. 

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Three years ago, March 2013 saw some of the “usual suspects” making acquisitions, but there were no billion dollar deals announced.  Oracle continued its move into the telco space with the purchase of Tekelec; Google bought a small Toronto University based company DNNresearch in the machine learning vertical; Microsoft sold Atlas Advertiser Suite to Facebook; and Yahoo bought Summly. 

In March 2014, Facebook made a, somewhat surprising, $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR.  Intel also expanded its horizons with the $150 million acquisition of smart watch maker, Basis Science.  SAP added to its purchasing software suite with the acquisition of Fieldglass and Telus made a couple of buys, Enode a management consulting company out of Quebec and Med Access an addition, in British Columbia, to their healthcare division. 

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Last year, March 2015 saw some significant M&A activity with HP paying $3 billion for Aruba Networks; Lexmark paying $1 billion for customer management software company Kofax; eCommerce company Rakuten paid $410 million for ebook marketplace Overdrive; Cheetah Mobile paid $58 million for mobile ad networkMobPartner;  TeraGo Networks paid $33 million for cloud provider RackForce; IBM bought natural language and image processing company AlchemyAPI; and in the cable TV world, Charter Communications paid $10.4 billion for Bright House Networks.

Which brings us back to the present…

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March 2016 saw the $3 billion sale of Dell Services to NTT, a direct result of Dell’s restructuring following the recent purchase of EMC.  IBM was out bolstering its services business with a couple of acquisitions; the first was Optevia, a UK-based integrator focused on Microsoft Dynamics; and the second was Bluewolf Group, a global Salesforce consulting partner.  Montreal based Yellow Pages picked up Toronto based Juice Mobile, primarily for its mobile marketing capability.  Another Toronto company, Influitive raised some cash ($8.2 million) and bought a couple of mobile app companies, Ironark Software and Triggerfox; and Netsuite bought IOity solutions a cloud based manufacturing software company.

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While IBM was bolstering its services business through acquisitions it was also trimming staff, with a reputed 14,000 jobs on the block.  Other companies laying off staff included SurveyMonkey and smartwatch company Pebble.  Cisco meanwhile was spreading some cash around with significant investments into India’s digital connectivity initiatives and a smart city initiative in Berlin.

In other news, the tech world lost a couple of icons. Andy Grove, founder of Intel, passed away, as did Ray Tomlinson the inventor of email.

On the economic front the US added another 200,000 jobs in February and the various surveys were generally positive.  Canada on the other hand lost 2,300 jobs and the unemployment rate hit 7.3%.

That is it for my monthly look at what was happening in the technology space over the last month, compared to the same month in previous years.  I’ll be back in about a month’s time, until then …walk fast and smile!