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Category Archives: Canadian Technology Landscape

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to the Canadian technology landscape.

October 2017 Tech News

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for October 2017. 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 previous year’s Octobers …

Five years ago in October 2012 news was dominated by Hurricane Sandy and the US presidential election.   The big deal of the month was a $1.5 billion merger of two US cell carriers, T-Mobile and MetroPCS.  There were also a number of smaller deals, with EMC beefing up in the security area (Silver Tail), Telus expanding its medical solutions portfolio (Kinlogix Medical) and Avnet improving its IBM capabilities (BrightStar and BSP).  In the social networking world Yelp bought its European competitor Qype in a $50 million deal.

Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseIn October 2013 Oracle announced two acquisitions, both “cloud based companies: Big Machines provides pricing and quote date for sales and orders; and Compendium is a content marketing company.  Other “names” out shopping included Avaya buying the software division of ITNavigator for its call centre and social media monitoring software; Rackspace bought ZeroVM a tech company with a software solution for the cloud; Intuit bought consulting company Level Up Analytics, primarily to acquire its talent; VMWare bought “desktop as a service” company Desktone; Netsuite bought human capital software company TribeHR; and Telus enhanced its mobile offering with the purchase of Public Mobile.

HP logoThree years ago in October 2014 we saw a new trend, with two public companies both choosing to split into smaller entities.  HP announced it was creating a business service focused Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and personal computing & printer company HP Inc.  Symantec also chose 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 to GlobalFoundries so it would take away its money losing semiconductor manufacturing business.  NEST bought competitor Revolv; 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.

dell logoOctober 2015 brought some big deals with the biggest seeing Dell offer $26 billion to buy storage company EMC.  Interestingly an EMC subsidiary, VMWare was also out shopping, picking up a small email startup, Boxer.  In another deal involving “big bucks”, Western Digital paid $19 billion for storage competitor Sandisk.  IBM were also writing a big cheque, paying $2 billion in a big data/internet of things play for The Weather Network (minus the TV operations), and IBM also picked up a storage company, Cleversafe.  Cisco paid $522.5 million for cybersecurity firm Lancope; LogMeIn is paying $$110 million for LastPass; Trend Micro is paying $350 million for next generation intrusion prevention systems company HP Tippingpoint; Red Hat picked up deployment task execution and automation company Ansible; Vasco Data Security is paying $85 million for solution provider Silanis; and Apple is buying a speech processing startup, VocalIQ.  As industries converge it is interesting to see Securitas pay $350 million for Diebold’s US Electronic Security business.

October 2016 saw Qualcomm pay $47 Billion for NXP Semiconductor (interesting that one year later Qualcomm are being pursued).  The only other sizable deal saw Wipro pay $500 million for IT cloud consulting company Appirio.  Google picked up Toronto based video marketing startup FameBit and Pivot Technology Solutions picked up Ottawa based Teramach.

Which brings us back to the present …

Cisco logoOctober 2017 continues a recent trend of reduced big ticket M&A activity, although there was certainly some action.  Not yet a done deal, but Broadcom is chasing Qualcomm pretty hard and if it goes through it will be the biggest tech deal yet.   The latest rejected offer was north of $100 billion (some reports said $130 billion), but watch that space.  In the meantime Cisco is shelling out $1.9 Billion for Broadsoft which improves Cisco’s software capabilities.  The final significant deal saw Telus beef up its service provider capability with a $250 million purchase of Xavient.

Amazon logoThe other company in the news was Amazon (a) because of its much publicized search for a site for its second headquarters … which has 239 cities around the world excited at their prospects; (b) because they also announced a second presence in Vancouver, bringing another 1,000 jobs and (c) for its growing influence in the AI world, announcing a research center in Germany.

The economy continues to have many positive signs, although Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma and to a lesser extent Maria caused some temporary  negative impact to employment numbers in the US.  The general consensus seems to be that things will pick up again now, with some sectors even benefiting from the clean-up work.  Canada’s numbers were again good with Canada adding more than 300,000 jobs in the last year.

That is my update on tech news for October 2017 … until next month, Walk Fast and Smile!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Independent Contractor or Employee (Canada)

Henry Ford quote about business ownershipBefore I get into this blog post I will post a disclaimer … I am not an accountant or a lawyer, so this article cannot be construed as “advice” from a professional.  I am a staffing company owner who has been in the business more than 20 years and have been very involved with this issue at an industry association level.

In Canada independent contractors are typically one person corporations that offer their services on a “just in time” basis to many organisations.  That flexibility is good for our economy.  Some (small) percentage of those independent contractors will go on to create bigger companies, and that is also good for our economy.

I have written previously about the importance of independent contractors to Canada’s economy …  Independent Contractor Myths and Realities in Canada.

The Federal and Provincial governments have a problem with independent contractors because they often believe they are “employees of a different type” and thus are avoiding paying taxes, EHT, CPP, EI etc.   Obviously in such a climate it is prudent to do everything possible to be “onside”.

“A large percentage of small businesses are actually just ways for wealthier Canadians to save on their taxes …” Justin Trudeau

If you are an independent contractor it is imperative that you operate like a business … here are just three reasons.

  1.  The CRA look at independent contractors across a lot of different industries and are constantly evaluating whether they are true businesses.  If you are deemed to be (a) an employee (worst case) or (b) a dependent contractor (bad news) or  (c) operating on a Personal Services contract (also bad news) the tax implications are significant.
  2. The Ontario Government are likely to pass bill 148 with its effect starting in January 2018.  Some aspects of the bill address  independent contractors including  an increase in fines associated with misclassification.  They are also hiring 175 new employment standards officers, who will be focused on the new Bill 148 changes.
  3. The Federal Government recently tabled tax changes for small business, because they believe some people incorporate to avoid taxes.  You do not want that scrutiny.

Government continues its assault on the independent contractor, so independent contractors need to clearly demonstrate that they are a legitimate business.

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”  Peter Drucker

Here are some common sense (although not always common) suggestions:

  • Incorporate.  Yes, you can operate as a sole proprietor … BUT as a sole proprietor your agency must deduct CPP and EI, and there is even some debate about EHT.  This makes you look like an employee …  you do NOT want to look like an employee.  If you are serious about being a business then incorporate. PS More and more agencies are refusing to work with sole proprietors.
  • Get advisers … an accountant (who TRULY understands the nuances of this space … most don’t) also get a lawyer.  Sure its OK to do your own books, but still engage these professionals.
  • Have your own website.  What other business do you know that does not have a website?  This is just basic stuff.  You MUST operate like a business.  Your own domain would be a good idea.
  • Have business cards.  Even in the digital age I know of no service business that operates without business cards.  Considering the cost, why would you NOT get them.
  • Have a separate business phone number.
  • Have business insurance.  This is good business sense, and is the right thing to do professionally.  It is available at a reasonable rate and is a business expense … so just do it.
  • Advertise your services … on your website, and perhaps job boards.
  • Participate in industry associations such as AQIII or APCC.
  • Invest in yourself.  Take courses on your own time, learn new skills, spend some of those revenues on increasing the capability of your company (you).
  • Do NOT OPERATE like an employee.  If you are operating on a client site then invariably there will be employees there, with similar skills to you.  You should try to differentiate yourself, to avoid the appearance of being an employee.  Some ideas (and there are plenty more)
    • If you attend a company social, pay your own way;
    • If you take any training through the client, pay for it;
    • Do NOT adopt the rigid 9 to 5 mentality … you are a business, do what it takes.  Leave after the employees and if possible arrive before them.
    • Never get involved in company politics, part of being an independent contractor is remaining independent.
    • Do not get paid like an employee … every business I know gets paid monthly or based on milestone deliverables.  Getting paid every two weeks (or twice monthly) just looks too much like an employee.
  • Have your own tools. This is a big indicator in the CRA tests but most (maybe ALL) IT contractors cannot take their own tools to work, typically for security concerns.  However you should have your own tools for marketing purposes, writing proposals, accounting purposes, training purposes, tracking expenses etc.  Any demonstration that you have your own tools helps.
  • Take on risk.  This is another key indicator for CRA.  Sometimes you may get an opportunity to bill Statement of Work activities rather than time and materials, but most often you are paid an hourly rate.  You should accept contractual risk (non competes, monthly payment terms paid only on acceptance of work etc.).  You accept the risk of being responsible for your own future, training and your next contract.  Anything you can do to exhibit an entrepreneur’s mindset on risk will help.
  • Control. Where possible you should get terms removed from your contract that demonstrate a control over you, such as an employee would have.  Eg Hours of work, dress code, how you do your work etc.  This is a difficult one and end clients are often hard to convince, but it’s worth the effort.
  • Sole client. The longer you work at one site, in the same role, the more you begin to look like an employee.  Despite opinions, there are no hard and fast rules about how long is “safe” or pushing the limits.  You can be pretty sure that if your contract is going into years then it is likely to be scrutinised more closely.  That doesn’t mean you can’t be a contractor, it just makes it harder to justify.  Can you have other clients?  Perhaps a part time role supporting someone else?   If it is a long term contract could you change the terms to a higher risk based reward such as a deliverables based contract?  You could offer your services to charities and give them “in kind” donations of your time.
  • Educate yourself. Do not fall into the trap of reading the US articles, their laws are very different than ours.  Understand how the various levels of Canadian government look at independent contractors.  Be CLEAR about ALL of the things that differentiate you from an employee … hopefully most of the ideas here, but also no pension, no sick days, no vacation.  You accept the risk of no pay if you are not working.
  • Have a Sideline. Many large companies were started by contractors, or a group of contractors.   That is one of the values to the Canadian economy that contractors bring.  Your “sideline” could be Canada’s next big company … it could be anything such as an app, a software or hardware product, a services company.  Have a business plan, work with partners, explore the potential.  It could grow from an interesting hobby into something significant.

All of these ideas are just normal practice for a business, so the overriding consideration for anyone operating as an independent contractor is Think and Operate like a business.

To someone starting out this might seem a little onerous, but really none of these are BIG things and they go some way to telling the world that you truly are an independent business.

As already indicated, these are my personal thoughts on this subject and cannot be viewed as professional advice.

 

The following are some links that might be useful:

Government of Canada CPP & EI Explained (IT Consultants)

AQIII (Quebec Association of IT Freelancers)

APCC (Association of Professional Canadian Consultants)

SMB Statistics in Canada

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Canada’s Job Market – Third Quarter 2017

General Observations:

newspaper job sectionThe unemployment rate at the end September was 6.2%, an improvement from the 6.5% unemployment rate at the end of June.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 320,000 jobs (almost 289,000 full time).

For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and during the third quarter it returned to the Q1 level just above 15,600, a gain of about 500 points.

picture of an oil rigThe oil patch continues to struggle, with the price of a barrel hovering in and around the $50 a barrel range.  The continued lack of support from the various levels of government has led to the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline.  This will mean (a) lost jobs, but also (b) reinforce a message to the investment community that Alberta oil is not a good investment.

The Canadian dollar has been relatively strong lately and in the third quarter ranged between 78c US and 82c US.

Piggy Bank accepting moneyThere is little change in the banking sector, which is one of the bigger employers in Canada.  The talent demands for the banks address areas such as regulatory changes, new product development, new service offerings and addressing the aging workforce.  On the other side, new technology and offerings also displaces some of the roles traditionally found at the banks.  The banks remain a good place to find employment, but increasingly the skills needed are specialised.

The telecommunications sector is another large employer in Canada.  Like the banks, this sector is operating in an environment affected by new technological change, demographic pressures and regulatory change in addition to extreme competition.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs, and over the third quarter averaged about 90,000 new jobs per month.  The demand for skills in the US is luring talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  As an example almost all of the jobs added in Canada in September (about 100,0000) can be attributed to public sector jobs.  Clearly the increased government spending is not a boon for the economy, but good for those looking for public sector jobs.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the second quarter was 114, which was up from 110 last quarter, and also 110 in Q3 last year.

Eagle logoHere at Eagle, we experienced an expected drop in demand over the Summer months, of about 10% from the second quarter however demand was up 10% over the same quarter in 2016.  There was a corresponding drop in people looking for work over the Summer months.

 More Specifically:

cn towerThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market continues to be one of the busiest markets in Canada, and we see strong demand from our clients for skilled talent.  There is some concern that new legislation from the Ontario Government (Bill 148) will have a negative effect on the temporary help market in particular.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada continues to struggle, receiving little help from our Federal government and not helping themselves much at the provincial level.  The cancelling of the Energy East pipeline was a tough blow for the region and optimism in the oil patch is low.  While the Conference Board had expected Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 I doubt we will see that happen.  The BC economy continues to do well despite the concerns about legislation to curb foreign investment in real estate.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  Ottawa is very much a government town again, although there are some smaller tech companies rising from the ashes of Nortel, JDS and the previously large tech sector. The government continues to employ a lot of people (22,000 more in The NCR since the Liberal government took office) but despite significant Federal government hiring the unemployment rate in Ottawa has been a concern.  Quebec appears to be enjoying a renaissance as its unemployment rate is now better than Ontario’s, in addition to having healthier finances.  They have been able to attract industries (such as large data centres) to help the economy and add jobs.  It doesn’t hurt that their hydro rates are very competitive as opposed to Ontario’s situation.  The Maritime Provinces don’t represent a great opportunity for the job seeker, however PEI and Nova Scotia are both showing signs of an improving economy.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Digital, big data, data scientists, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

 Summary:

There are numerous good indicators for Canada’s economy and hence job seekers, but there are also some challenges on the horizon:

  • NAFTA re-negotiations may have a negative impact on our economy;
  • we don’t yet understand all the implications of the Energy East project being cancelled;
  • January in Ontario will see the introduction of Bill 148, a severe increase in minimum wage plus new labor laws that will hurt business and cost jobs;
  • January we will see the introduction of new carbon taxes in Ontario;
  • our Federal Government is introducing new tax changes affecting small business, possibly to help pay for their out of control spending;
  • at the same time that Canada is raising taxes, the US is encouraging small business through tax breaks, which may well cost Canada as some companies will be forced to go where they can make money.

If all of this goes ahead, then we will see a big impact on the job market.

Canada added 320,000 jobs in the last year which is good news for today’s job seekers.  The BIG elephant in the room is whether the factors listed above will conspire to undermine our economy and create a government driven recession.

For job seekers there remain the bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers), jobs moving to Canada from more expensive places like Silicon Valley and companies developing new technologies.  The large employers, such as banking sector, insurance sector, retail sector, telecommunications sector and the construction industry will always require large workforces representing job opportunity. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that, some possible impacts include immigration (positive for Canada); trade agreements & protectionist policies such as the NAFTA negotiations (possibly negative for Canada); and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

Job seekers should research and understand the growing sectors and where the in-demand jobs are.  They also need to be willing to go where the work is!  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the third quarter of 2017 and some of its influences.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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August Tech News

IT Industry News - August 2017This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for August 2017. 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 August in previous years …

Five years ago in August 2012 M&A was slow with IBM busiest, paying $1.3 billion for HR solutions and services company Kenexa, plus they bought flash memory developer, Texas Memory Systems.  The other “big name” deal was Google’s purchase of social media marketing company Wildfire Interactive, reputedly for $250 million.

In August 2013 IBM paid $1 billion for Trusteer, a cybersecurity company specialized in the financial services sector;  Qualcomm sold its fleet management software unit for $800 million to private equity firm Vista Equity Partners; and the other big dollar buy was AOL paying $405 million for online video company Adap.tv.  Facebook bought speech recognition company Mobile Technology; Software AG bought analytics firm Jackbe; Opentext paid $33 million for cloud based software company Cordys; and SAP bought ecommerce company Hybris.

Intel logoAugust 2014 saw no blockbuster deals, 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 messaging capabilities and Directr for its video advertising business; Facebook bought a security startup Privatecore, and the last BIG name saw Yahoo buying app company Zofari.

IBM logoTwo years ago in August 2015 there were two billion dollar deals.  Symantec sold Veritas (which it paid $13.5 Billion dollars for 10 years ago) to a group of investors for $8 Billion.  IBM also paid ”big bucks”, shelling out $1 billion for Merge Healthcare.  Smaller deals saw Calgary based Above Security bought by Hitachi; Transcomos bought 30% of Vietnamese daily deals site Hotdeal; Freshdesk bought live-chat company 1Click; and PLDT bought ecommerce startup Paywhere.

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itLast year August 2016 saw a fair bit of M&A activity although there were no billion dollar deals.   The largest deal saw global staffing company Randstad buy one of the larger job boards, Monster for $429 million.  A similar sized deal saw Intel shell out $408 million for artificial intelligence company Nervana.  Hewlett Packard Enterprises paid $275 million for SGI (what was left of Silicon Graphics); Apple paid $200 million for artificial intelligence company, (there is a pattern here), Turi; Salesforce bought business analytics company Beyondcore for $100 million; and ScanSource paid $83.6 million for telecom cloud services company Intelisys Communications.  Other acquisitions saw Microsoft snap up two companies, artificial intelligence scheduling software company Genee in addition to their XBox division buying interactive livestreaming company Beam.  Nutanix bought two companies to bolster its Enterprise Cloud Platform, Calm.io, a DevOps automation company and PernixData, which offers data analytics and acceleration capabilities.   Other smaller deals saw Palantir, an analytics and consulting company buy data visualization startup, Silk; and Magnitude software bought Vancouver based, data access and analytics company Simba.

Which brings us back to the present …

Cisco logoAugust 2017, as has been the case for most of this year was relatively slow on the M&A front.  Symantec is selling its website security business to DigiCert for $1 billion, plus a stake in the larger entity.  Cisco paid $320 million for hyperconvergence company Springpath, CGI bought consulting company in Pittsburgh, Summa Technologies and Accenture bought a Toronto consulting company VERAX.  While not a pure tech play the biotech world saw Aclaris pay $100million for Confluence.

Infosys logoThere was some drama at Samsung, as Jay Y Lee was jailed for 5 years for bribery.  There was also some internal drama at Infosys that saw their CEO Vishal Sikka resign.

The Canadian economic indicators were mixed, but new proposed tax reforms, NAFTA negotiations, new labour laws in Ontario and an impending carbon tax will hurt clearly have a negative impact on the Canadian economy.  Meanwhile, the US economy seems to keep adding jobs and have fairly positive indicators.

It is also interesting to look at the various job situations around the world noting very low unemployment in places like Japan, Germany and Hong Kong with very high unemployment in France, Greece and Spain.  The impact of Brexit on the London job market also seems to be a growing factor.

Eagle logoThat’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 September 2017 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Until then, Walk Fast and Smile!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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July Tech News

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for July 2017. 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 July in previous years …

Five years ago, in July 2012, Marissa Mayer became the new CEO at Yahoo and Dell bought Quest Software for $2.4 billion; Apple picked up Authentec for $356 million and Socialcam acquired Autodesk for $60 million.  Oracle was on a roll, buying (i) the assets of Skire (capital assets and facilities management software), (ii) Involver (a social marketing tools company) and (iii) Xsigo Systems (Network Virtualisation).  VMware was also busy, picking up Dynamic Ops (virtualisation software) and Nicira (a start-up in the networking software space).  One interesting deal saw Digg bought for $500,000 by Betaworks, when Digg had been valued at $200 million just four years ago.

Cisco logoJuly 2013 was quiet for M&A activity, but there were some interesting deals, with the big deal involving perennial acquirer Cisco shelling out $2.7 billion for security vendor Sourcefire. There were some other big names out shopping with EMC buying identity management company Aveska, Intel making an acquisition in Israel (a trend) of Omek a company specialised in the perceptual computing arena.  Apple bought Locationary, a Toronto company that is expected to be involved in improving Apple’s maps for iOS (remember when Apple dropped Google Maps!)  Finally, Ottawa’s Shopify bought Toronto-based design agency Jet Cooper.

Twitter logoJuly 2014 had a lot of M&A activity but no real blockbuster deals.  BlackBerry bought 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 bought 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.

IBM logoJuly 2015 saw no billion-dollar deals, but there was some activity with some big names out shopping.  Microsoft made two acquisitions, paying $320 million for cloud security company Adallom and also picked up customer servicing software company FieldOne Systems. IBM picked up database as a service company Compose; Cisco paid $139 million for sales automation company MaintenanceNet; HP is buying a cloud development platform Stackato; Blackberry bought AtHoc which is a crisis communication tool; and DropBox bought messaging company Clementine.  Other acquisitions saw Cisco as a seller, with Technicolor paying $600 million for Cisco’s set top box division; Level 3 bought security firm Black Lotus; Amadeus bought travel software company Navitaire (a subsidiary of Accenture) for $830 million; eBay sold its enterprise unit for $925 million, having paid $2.4 billion for it four years ago.  In the continued blurring of the lines between technology companies and other industries, Capital One bank acquired design, development and marketing firm Monsoon.

Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseJuly 2016 saw some large deals, with Verizon making two multi-billion-dollar acquisitions.  The big name was Yahoo who they bought for $4.83 billion, but they also paid $2.4 billion for Fleetmatics who provide fleet and mobile workforce management services.  Oracle were also out spending big dollars, paying $9.3 billion for cloud based ERP company, Netsuite. Now if those deals were not big enough, Softbank (like Verizon they have a large telco presence – formerly Vodafone) paid a whopping $32.2 billion for chip designer ARM Holdings. Also joining the July billion dollar club was security vendor Avast, who bought AVG for $1.3 billion. Other deals this month saw Salesforce pay $582 million for cloud based startup Quip; Google bought video company Anvato; Terradata bought training company Big Data Partnership; and Opentext bought analytics company Recommind.

Which brings us back to the present …

Mitel LogoIn July 2017, Cincinnati Bell Inc. is buying Hawaiian Telcom Holdco Inc. for $650 million and OnX for $201 million. Mitel announced its acquisition of ShoreTel for $430 million as well as Toshiba’s unified communications business. In Toronto, digital signage solution provider, Dot2Dot, acquired Pixel Point Digital. PNI Canada Acuireco Corp. has purchased Sandvine Corp. for $562 million and plans to merge Sandvine with Procera Networks.

Reports indicate Microsoft plans to cut up to 3,000 jobs while streaming platform, SoundCloud has laid of 40% of its employees, and data storage provider, Seagate, plans more staff cuts due to weak financial performance.

According to threat intelligence provider, Risk Based Security, the number of publicly-reported data breaches in Canada this year is up to 59. In a study conducted by Forrester Data it is projected there will be 5.5 billion smartphone users around the world by 2020. In other news, there has been a recent increase in investments in European startups according to Invest Europe.

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 August 2017 industry news in just about a month’s time, until then … walk fast and smile!
——————————————————————————————————————————
Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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June Tech News

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000-foot look at events in the ICT industry for June 2017. 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 June in previous years …

Five years ago, in June 2012 Microsoft’s $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer was the big deal of the month. Salesforce paid $689 million for Buddy Media; Google reputedly paid $100 million for Meebo; Facebook bought facial recognition company Face.com; and Oracle bought “social intelligence” company Collective Intellect. Another “buy” of interest to us at Eagle was the reputedly 7-figure purchase of Bullhorn by Vista Equity Partners (Bullhorn is Eagle’s front office software).

Salesforce logoIn June 2013, Salesforce.com purchased marketing technology company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion, which was the big buy of the month. Other acquisitions included Irish mobile company Three’s purchase O2 Ireland for $780 million; SanDisk paid $307 million for SMART Storage Systems; Cisco bought Composite Software for $180 million; IBM bought cloud company SoftLayer Technologies; and Buytopia.ca has been on a spree with six acquisitions in the last year.

Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseJune 2014 included some significant deals announced with Oracle’s paying $5 billion for Micros Systems; Sandisk paid $1.1 billion for solid state storage company Fusion-io. Google continues its push into home automation, witnessed by its subsidiary Nest paying $550 million for cloud based home monitoring service Dropcam. Google itself paid $500 million for Skybox Imaging a satellite maker that will enhance the Google Maps capability. Twitter paid $100 million for mobile marketing platform Tap Commerce and Red Hat is paid $95 million for eNovance.

Intel logoIn June 2015, Intel paid $16.7 billion for semiconductor company Altera Corp. Cisco paid $635 million for security firm OpenDNS in addition to picking up OpenStack company, PistonCloud Computing. Microsoft bought 6Wunderkinder, maker of task management app Wunderlist; Ricoh Canada bought Graycon Group a professional services firm headquartered in Calgary; and finally, IBM bought OpenStack company Blue Box Group.

Microsoft logoJune 2016 was certainly an interesting month, with the Brexit vote upsetting the markets and causing uncertainty that will likely continue for some time yet; pnd there was plenty of M&A activity. The big deal was undoubtedly the Microsoft purchase of LinkedIn for a whopping $2.6 billion. There were other billion dollar deals this month too, Salesforce paid $2.8 billion for e-commerce platform maker Demandware and Amazon announced an extra $3 billion investment in its India operations. Other significant deals included Daetwyler Holdings AG paying more than $877 million for Raspberry Pi maker Premier Farnell Plc; Red Hat paid $568 million for API management software company 3Scale; and OpenText paid $315 million for HP’s Customer Communication Management products. Other noteworthy deals included an investment group’s purchase of Dell’s software arm; Microsoft bought natural language start up Wand Labs; and Samsung bought cloud computing company Joyent. Also, Google Capital announced its first investment in a public company, investing $46 million in Care.com, an online personal services marketplace platform.

Which brings us back to the present …

June 2017

Amazon logoThe largest deal of the month was Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion or $42 a share. Westcon-Comstar’s American business is being bought by Synnex for approximately $800 million. US fintech provider, Fiserv purchased British financial services technology firm, Monitise for $88.7 million. Microsoft has purchased Israli cloud startup, Cloudyn, for a price between $50 million and $70 million. Rackspace has acquired TriCore in an effort to increase Rackspace’s business from customers who want help running their critical applications. Ebix Inc. has entered into a joint venture with Essel Group. while acquiring a majority stake in ItzCash for $120 million.

Uber logoTravis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber, resigned due to investor pressure due to various scandals and setbacks.  Google is being fined $3.575 by the European Commission for breaking antitrust rules.

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 July 2017 industry news in just about a month’s time.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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May 2017 Tech News

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at tech events for May 2017. 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 May in previous years …

Five years ago, in May 2012, Facebook went public and there was a fair amount of M&A activity. The largest deal saw SAP’s $4.3 billion acquisition of Ariba with CGI’s $2.8 billion acquisition of Logica PLC of particular interest to those of us here in Canada! EMC continued its pattern of acquisitions with the $430 million purchase of XtremIO: perennial acquirer Oracle paid $300 million for social media marketing firm Vitrue; in the storage space Seagate paid $186 million for a controlling interest in LaCie; Microsoft invested $300 million in a Barnes & Noble subsidiary; and LinkedIn paid $118 million for Slideshare. There was plenty more activity, but with the amounts not published. Twitter bought RestEngine; IBM bought customer analytics company Tealeaf Technology; VMware bought Wanova; and Cisco bought Truvisco.

Yahoo logoIn May 2013, Yahoo purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion. The $6.9 billion deal to take BMC Software private did not cause the same kind of splash … the power of the brand? Manitoba Tel decided to shed its Allstream division to a holding company for $520 million; McAfee paid $389 million for Finnish security firm Stonesoft; Dell added to its cloud capabilities with the purchase of Estratius; AVG bought PrivacyChoice; and Ottawa based N-Able Technologies became one more Canadian company to be bought by a larger US company, this time Solarwinds for $120 million.

In May 2014, AT&T paid $50 billion for DirectTV and Apple paid $3 billion for Beats. Google continued to invest in its Android strategy this time with a strategy company, Divide, that will bring help breaking into the enterprise. Other acquisitions saw Seagate pay $450 million for some flash capability from Avago (the LSI divisions); GE bought cyber security firm Wurdtech; EMC bought a flash (see the trend) start-up DSSD; Time Warner bought Youtube video network FullScreen; and SAP bought behavioral target marketing company SeeWhy.

HP logoMay 2015 saw some very large deals on the M&A front, with the biggest seeing Charter Communications spend $55 Billion to buy Time Warner Cable and a further $10.4 Billion to buy Bright House Networks. This creates the second largest cable company in the US, just behind Comcast. The “Billion-dollar club” also saw French Telco Altice pay $9.1 Billion for another US cable company Suddenlink Communications. Keeping with the billion dollar deals involving telcos, Verizon paid $4.4 Billion for AOL to bolster its mobile video capabilities. Another Billion dollar deal saw HP unload 70% of its stake in its China server, storage and technology storage unit to Tsinghua Holdings for $2.3 billion. The final billion-dollar deal saw EMC pay $1.2 billion for cloud service provider Virtustream. Apple was out buying a couple of companies in May, snapping up mapping company Coherent Navigation and augmented reality company Metaio. In other deals Avaya bought cloud technology company Esna; and Cisco bought cloud programming interface company Tropo.

DXC logoMay 2016 saw some M&A activity with the largest deal seeing HPE merge its services arm with CSC in a $8.5 billion deal to create arguably the largest IT services company. In another large deal Vista Equity Partners is paying $1.79 billion for customer service and marketing cloud provider Marketo. There were some other big names out shopping in May too. Oracle paid $532 million for software as a service for the utilities vertical, company Opower; Google picked up interactive training platform Synergyse; Infor bought consulting services company Merit Globe AS; and ARM paid $350 million for imaging and embedded systems company Apical. Microsoft ended an unhappy period by divesting its feature phone business to FIH mobile for $350 million, and GoDaddy picked up cloud based phone company FreedomVoice for $43 million. New Signature picked up another Microsoft solution provider, Dot Net Solutions; and Edmonton based F12.Net bought Calgary-based professional services company XCEL.

Which brings us back to the present …

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itThe most significant purchase in May 2017 was the $1.86 billion sale of CenturyLink’s data centres and colocation business to a consortium led by BC Partners, Medina Capital Advisors and Longview Asset Management. Cybersecurity startup, Hexadite, was bought by Microsoft for $100 million. Goldman Sachs entered the BI space by purchasing a minority stake in Information Builders of New York City. Apple acquired Beddit, a Finnish sleep sensor product, for an undisclosed amount. Finnish cybersecurity firm, F-Secure acquired British security consultants, Digital Assurance also for an undisclosed amount.     

Surprisingly, increasing smartphone sales around the world are not coming from tech giants like Apple and Samsung. Chinese smartphone makers are on the rise and gaining significant market share at home and in other densely populated countries.

That is it for my synopsis of  technologynews 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!
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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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The Decline of the Staffing Industry is Greatly Exaggerated

Hiring quote by David OgilvieThe staffing industry comprises “middle men” who find talent to meet their client’s demands.  In the optimal case they find the perfect candidate, in a timely manner and at a good price.

Of course “middle men” have been targets for disintermediation for years.  Technology will replace them (travel agents) or better business models will replace them (taxi companies using the sharing economy).

The recruitment industry can be a frustrating one for both clients, and the talent they pursue, which just increases the desire of innovators to replace the industry, either with technology or just a better way of doing things.  Everyone thinks they can do it better.

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”   Red Adair

Over the years those of us within the industry have seen some major changes that were predicted to cause that disruption.  There were job boards that would allow clients to access the candidates directly.  There was technology that would restrict a client’s staff from engaging “unapproved staffing vendors”.  More recently there have been technology innovations using Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, Big Data and analytics in addition to crowdsourcing, shared economy solutions and just about any option using pieces of the above.  Yet here we are.

Why has this industry survived?

  1. It is not as easy as it seems. How hard can it be?   The client needs someone, you find a qualified person, you match them up and there you go!  Well it is just not that easy … here are Just SOME of the challenges:
    • Understanding the client need is not simple. Job descriptions are never complete, different industries use different language to describe the same roles, acronyms are widespread & inconsistent.  Job roles change and very often client needs “evolve” as the search progresses.  Staffing companies understand this world, and trained agency staff work hard to become proficient in this environment.
    • Clients have many competing priorities and the hiring cycle can suffer, meaning that quite often they lose great candidates because they couldn’t act fast enough. Yet the staffing companies keep coming back with more.
    • We have many, many GREAT candidates … BUT also many, many candidates lie! Big lies and little lies, and certainly more often than you would think.  On their resume, in their interviews and we have even had different people interview than showed up to sign the contract!  Agencies use experience, process and tools to be able to manage this.
    • Among the candidates that don’t “lie” are the many candidates who oversell themselves. Just because they say they can do the job, and their resume might be written that way, it does not mean that they can!   Agency recruiters learn to identify the real candidates.
    • Attracting more candidates seems like a good thing to the casual observer, but in reality higher volume just equals LOTS of extra work. Staffing companies cope with this and work to serve their clients.
    • Many clients have challenging expectations. Expecting “A” candidates for below market rates, expecting experts when all the job needs is a journeyman, expecting great talent in extremely competitive markets etc.  But that is just a staffing company’s reality …if we don’t deliver, then we don’t get paid.
    • Demographics and global competitiveness are conspiring to create serious skills shortages … finding talent is getting harder. It’s what staffing companies do.
    • Candidates can be challenging too … changing their mind, having unreasonable expectations, expecting Champagne service on a beer budget (despite the fact that they pay nothing), leaving jobs early, playing clients off against each other, playing staffing companies off against each other.  The experienced agencies understand this world and work hard to ensure things are handled professionally.
    • Our “product” is people! With all of the differences inherent in the human race and while we have never seen it all, the average staffing agency has dealt experience with these kinds of issues.
    • I could go on …
  2. The Staffing Industry has been doing this a long time. We understand the challenges and have developed the processes, capabilities, training and tools to deal with them.
  3. The Recruitment world is hard work! Recruitment companies hire, train and set an expectation of their people that their job will be hard, every day”.  From the outside it looks easy, but once you understand the nuances and take into account the human factor you quickly change your mind!
  4. The successful recruiter is a sales person in addition to all of their other skills. These are hard skills to find, and to train.  The recruitment function within companies tends to be an HR function … which is not typically associated with a hard charging, sales culture (I am generalizing of course because there are SOME very successful internal corporate recruiting teams).
  5. The Staffing Industry continually evolves as the landscape changes. We take advantage of the new technologies, new approaches, and tools.
  6. Focus brings success. Car companies focus on building cars, banks focus on finance and staffing companies focus on talent acquisition.
  7. Profits in the staffing industry are skinny. To compete and be successful staffing companies have to be good at what they do.

I have no reason to believe that the changes in today’s environment will signal the end of our industry.  In fact the growing need for talent (#1 on CEO wish lists worldwide), the growing skills shortages and hyper competitive nature of business today will just mean a stronger staffing industry.  Don’t count us out just yet!

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”  Lawrence Bossidy

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Don’t Be a Luddite

John Maxwell quote about changeDuring the industrial revolution the Luddites opposed change and fought against the notion that machines would be used to get around labour laws.

The term Luddite today is used to describe anyone who opposes automation and new technologies.

We are on the cusp of another breakthrough, similar in impact to the industrial evolution or the information technology age, and along with all of the benefits, it will spawn the next generation of Luddites.

This evolution will see Artificial Intelligence in many forms, impact our lives.

  • Jobs will be lost in the same way that typing pools were replaced by word processing technology.
  • The Internet of Things will come with the smarts to effect our daily lives in ways we can only begin to understand.
  • Robots and robotics will also advance with AI smarts to preform more complex tasks than previously thought possible.

We will continue to be impacted by the effects of globalisation, including the offshoring of jobs, the access to goods produced in low cost environments and the ability of entrepreneurs to enter foreign markets easily and quickly through the internet.

We are experiencing a huge change in the way we work.  The retiring boomers leave a big gap to fill and there are not enough people in Western countries to fill those gaps.  Skilled talent is in demand (the #1 concern of CEOs worldwide) and progressive countries are finding ways to attract this talent.  There is a growth in self employment, evidenced with the gig economy and the many enabling technologies that make this possible.  People work from home, and jobs are shared more often than ever.

“It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.”  W Edward Deming

So … how are we to respond in an era of such change?

Here are some thoughts:

  1.  Change is inevitable.  Fighting change is like trying to hold back the tide.  Embrace change and find a way to make it work for you.
  2. The industrial revolution ultimately resulted in more jobs, a better standard of living and better work conditions.
  3. Factors that will work in favor of job opportunity include:
    • the impact of demographics that will create job shortages,
    • the new economy jobs requiring more tech skills and
    • the opening of global markets that any company can now access.
  4. The way to protect yourself in this new world is not to fight change, but rather to invest in your skills.  Get “in demand” skills which might include any profession or trade and develop great soft skills, or better yet get involved with emerging technologies.
  5. In a world where we will see more and more shortages of talent, companies will hire for attitude first, and skills second.  Do you have a positive attitude and strong work ethic?  Find experience that will prove these assets!
  6. Companies need to be profitable in order to survive, so make sure that you are important to your employer.  Just putting in time will not make you a “keeper”.

With change comes opportunity.  I believe that this amount of change is going to create a ton of opportunity.

I also believe that it will not fall in our lap … and it will be easy to be left behind.

So … invest in yourself and learn new skills.

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”  Charles Kettering

Do NOT become the modern day Luddite, but rather focus on the opportunities.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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April 2017 Tech News

Industry News - April 2017This is my 30,000 foot look at tech events for April 2017. 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 April in previous years

Facebook logoFive years ago, in April 2012 Facebook made a $1 billion bid for Instagram, Facebook also bought a piece of the patent action from Microsoft after Microsoft had paid AOL more than $1 billion for the patents. DELL made three acquisitions this month, Wyse technology, Clerity Solutions and Make Technologies. IBM picked up Toronto based BI company Varicent Software; Intel paid $140 million for some assets from Cray; Citrix picked up Podio; and Twitter bought a startup to acquire its team of developers.

Three years ago, in April 2013 Rogers paid $200 million for Primus’s Blackiron subsidiary, including datacenter capability; Toronto based Softchoice also chose to go private in a $412 million private equity deal; Shaw paid $225 million for an Enmax fibre network subsidiary in Calgary; Best Buy sold its stake in Carphone Warehouse for $775 million (having paid $2.1 billion in 2008). Google paid $30 million for social company Wavii. Other big names on the acquisition trail in April 2013 included Intel (Mashery), IBM (Urbancode); Computer Associates (Nolio). Finally, Facebook had a couple of small acquisitions Osmeta and Parse.

Microsoft logoApril 2014 saw Microsoft officially entered the handset business with the completion of the $7.5 billion purchase of Nokia’s devices business. Zebra Technologies paid $3.5 billion for Motorola’s unit that makes mobile devices for business which is a move in the ever-expanding Internet of Things space. Apple paid $479 million purchase of the LCD chip development unit of Renesas Electronics. IBM snapped up marketing automation software company Silverpop Systems and open source software company Red Hat paid $175 million for storage company Inktank.

LinkedIn LogoIn April 2015, there was plenty of action. Nokia was the biggest story, paying $16.5 billion for telecom company Alcatel-Lucent, but there was also a $4 billion deal that saw Capgemini buy services firm IGATE and LinkedIn made its largest acquisition ever, paying $1.5 billion for training portal Lynda.com. LinkedIn also bought a predictive insights startup company, Refresh. Netsuite paid $200 million for ERP and commerce software company Bronto Software and Blackberry reputedly shelled out $150 million for file sharing security company Watchdox. Salesforce was also out shopping, picking up mobile two-factor authentication startup, Toopher. In another deal involving billions, Informatica decided to follow in DELL’s footsteps and go private for a $5.3 billion price tag.

Bell logoLast year, in April 2016 there were some big deals, the biggest was Bell’s $3.8 billion bid for Manitoba Telephone System. Other large deal saw a Chinese conglomerate bid $3.6 billion for Lexmark; and Mitel shell out $2 billion for Polycom. Oracle paid $663 million for cloud based construction software company Textura. Nokia, who were also in the news announcing layoffs, continued to evolve their business model, this time into the wearable tech arena with the $192 million purchase of Withings. Other deals saw Autodesk acquire 3D animation software company Solid Angle; and Dimension Data bought Toronto based cloud services company Ceryx.

Which brings us back to the present

April 2017

ACCENTURE LOGOIt has been reported that Microsoft plans to purchase Israeli cloud-monitoring and analytics startup, Cloudyn. Flipkart, one of India’s larger ecommerce companies, has acquired the Indian division of eBay (eBay.in) as part of eBay’s $500 million investment in Flipkart. VMware‘s vCloud Air unit will be acquired by OVH, a French hosting and cloud company. Global professional services provider, Accenture, purchased the UK-based automation services provider, Genfour. Toronto-based startup, Turnstyle Analytics, has been acquired by Yelp for $20 million. California-based Coupa Software purchased Swedish software company, Trade Extensions for $45 million. Montreal-based financial technology provider, Alithya acquired big data solution provider, Systemware Innovation Corporation.

In other news, the demand for PCs continues to decline reaching a low that has not been experienced since 2007. In Q1 of 2017, PC shipments fell by 2.4%, which signifies the 10th quarter of decline.

The ride-hailing company, Lyft, has raised $600 million in additional investments bringing the company’s valuation up to $7.5 billion.

BlackBerry has won a binding arbitration case against Qualcomm for $815 million.

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!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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