This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for February 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 Februarys …
Five years ago, February 2012 was not a blockbuster month for M&A, but there was some interesting activity. The biggest deal of the month saw Oracle pay $1.9 billion for talent management company Taleo. Siemens Canada paid $440 million for networking equipment company Rugged.com. IBM bought BYOD company Worklight; Dell bought backup and recovery company AppAssure; Apple bought mobile search company Chomp; and LM Ericsson bought Ottawa based BelAir Networks. Four years ago in February 2013 Dell went private in a $24.4 billion deal that included a $2 billion investment by Microsoft. Oracle paid $1.7 billion for networking company Acme Packet Inc.; Rackspace bought big data company ObjectRocket; Telus was busy with two acquisitions, electronic medical records division of the Canadian Medical Association and digital forensics company Digital Wyzdom; HP also sold the Palm operating system to LG for their smart TVs. February 2014 was busy in M&A. Facebook make a big move with the $16 billion acquisition of Whatsapp. Comcast made a $45 billion play for Time Warner Cable and regulatory approval or otherwise is imminent; Oracle paid a reputed $400 million for data management platform company Bluekai; LinkedIn paid $120 million for online job search company Bright; and Klout was bought for about $100 million by Lithium Technologies. Google made a couple of acquisitions, online fraud company Spider.io and secure logon company Slicklogin. IBM bought database as a service company Cloudant; and Monster bought a couple of companies, social profile company Talentbin and job aggregation and distribution technology company Gozaic. Finally, Microsoft announced Steve Balmer’s retirement and appointed a new CEO, Satya Nadella. February 2015 saw some interesting activity. The $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot and the $1.6 Billion purchase of Orbitz by Expedia are two examples of sectors experiencing massive consolidation. There was a big buy in the communications and IT space with Harris paying $4,75 billion for Excelis to establish a 23,000 person company. There was a big data center play with UK based Telecity Group paying $2.2 billion for Interxion Holdings. Microsoft made a couple of acquisitions, paying $200 million for pen-tech maker N-Trig and $100 million for mobile calendar company Sunrise. Samsung bought a mobile payment company (competing with Apple pay), LoopPay. Also out buying was Twitter which picked up Niche, a network of social media creators. There were a number of interesting deals in Asia, including Sapdeal buying luxury fashion estore Exclusively; Foodpanda made six acquisitions of online meal delivery services to establish itself as a powerhouse in that space. Showing some forethought Australian job board OneShift has bought Adage, which is a job board serving people over 45. Last year in February 2016 the biggest deal saw HNA Group of China pay $6 billion for Ingram Micro. Two other billion dollar deals included Cisco paying $1.4 billion for IoT company, Jasper Technologies and a consortium of Chinese internet firms making a $1.2 billion bid for Opera. Microsoft was busy with a couple of acquisitions, Xamarin a cross platform mobile application development company, and Swiftkey which produces predictive keyboard technology. Another busy company was Alibaba Group which was investing in a bunch of companies, including a $100 million investment in Groupon, and smaller investments in microblogging site Weibo; software company Momo; augmented reality startup Magic Leap; Chinese retail chain Suning; and Singapore telco SingPost. Other companies of note out buying included IBM who bought digital agency Aperto and Blackberry acquired cybersecurity company Encription.
Which brings us back to the present …
February 2017 saw very little M&A action. Nokia paid $371 million for Finnish telecom software company Comptel, as it reinvents itself, and Apple picked up an AI startup company RealFace. Another company in the news, but for the wrong reasons was Samsung which is in the middle of a significant bribery scandal.
On the economic front there were a lot of positive indicators out of the US, including adding another 246,000 jobs. Canada also added 48,000 jobs in January which followed a good December in job creation. Around the world, the UK is starting to see some labour impacts from the Brexit decision as EU nationals are not applying for jobs they used to do. Brazil reached a record high in unemployment, in India hiring activity declined and in China there is expected to be a boom in hiring.
Perhaps more interesting this month than the M&A activity, or lack thereof, were some other tidbits of news.
The Irish government have an Action Plan for Jobs that is ahead of plan as of 2016 and is looking to create 200,000 net new jobs by 2020. Maybe Canada could take a look at an interesting program like this!
An Ipsos survey suggests that Canadians are spending more time on mobile apps than ever, which might explain why everyone you see walking along the street has their face buried in their phone!
Another survey suggests that within the last year 60% of small businesses were the victims of cyberattack!
Finally, another study suggests that global gender diversity is moving, albeit slowly, and at this rate it will take another 20 years to hit parity!
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!
Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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