This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for February 2019
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, in February 2014 Facebook make a big move with the $16 billion acquisition of Whatsapp. 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 the $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot and the $1.6 Billion purchase of Orbitz by Expedia. 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. Australian job board OneShift bought Adage, which is a job board serving people over 45.
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.
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.
Last year, February 2018 was a very active month in M&A. There was more consolidation in the telco space with US based GTT paying $2.3 billion for London headquartered Interroute, thus expanding its global footprint. Security companies were a theme in this month’s acquisitions and you will spot several in the following list. Cybersecurity firm Phishme was bought with $400 million of private equity money; Splunk paid $350 million for Phantom Cyber Corp; and Proofpoint paid $225 million for Wombat Security Technologies. Other deals saw LogMeIn pay $342 million for Jive Communications; Carbonite pay $146 million for Mozy; and Red Hat paid $250 million for Core OS. Some of the household names that were also out making deals included Oracle, Google, Opentext, Avaya and Citrix.
Which brings us back to the present …
February 2019 was a relatively busy month in M&A but there were no blockbuster, billion dollar deals. The biggest deal I saw was Carbonite’s $618 million acquisition of internet security company Webroot. Palo Alto Networks seems to be on a buying spree, closing two deals this month, $560 million for analytics company Demisto and $170 million for cloud security startup, RedLock. The money guys were out shopping too, with Thoma Bravo paying $270 million+ for MSP platform company Connectwise and Trive Capital paid $330 million for Windstream’s Earthlink telephone service provider assets. Spotify announced its podcast intentions with a couple of acquisitions, Gimlet Media and Anchor, and Witricity strengthened its hand in the wireless charging space with the acquisition of Qualcomm’s Halo business unit.
There were some big names out shopping too, including Microsoft who picked up Datasense in the education space; Amazon picked up eero in the home automation world; DXC picked up EG A/S a services company in Europe; and Semantec bought cybersecurity startup Luminate Security.
Other companies in the news include Canadian engineering company SNC-Lavalin embroiled in a scandal that is rocking the government; Cognizant paid a $25 million fine for corruption; Monster announced some layoffs; and after a lengthy process Amazon rescinded its choice of New York as a location for a huge investment & additional “headquarters”.
Around the world the jobs situation is generally positive, if not “as positive” as in previous months. The Brexit situation is having negative effect in the UK, India posted poor employment numbers that could impact an upcoming election and the US suffered through a government shutdown that impacted their numbers.
A couple of interesting tidbits, that probably come under the title “doesn’t time fly” … it has been 5 years since Facebook bought Whatsapp AND Steve Balmer retired as CEO of Microsoft making way for current CEO Satya Nadella.
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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