This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for February 2018. 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 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. Three years ago 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. 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. Last year 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.
Which brings us back to the present …
February 2018 was a very active month in M&A, with lots of deals. The biggest saw 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 pay $250 million for Core OS. Some of the household names that were also out making deals included Oracle, Google, Opentext, Avaya and Citrix. All in all the busiest M&A month I have seen in a while.
Samsung was in the news for passing Intel in size within the chip manufacturing market for the first time, which is much more positive press than the scandal of a year ago. The fourth quarter of 2017 saw the first decrease in smartphone sales since 2004. It is suggested that cybercrime is now costing $600 billion annually which is up about a third in the last three years.
The Canadian market took a hit in January, losing 80,000 jobs (50,000 in Ontario). The stark difference in tax treatment between the Canadian budget and the US tax reform moves, together with NAFTA negotiations are causing some concern in Canada. The US however continues to enjoy continuing job growth and almost every indicator is positive. Around the world most countries are enjoying job growth and positive indicators. One exception to all that positivity is in the UK where the uncertainly around the Brexit seems to be having an impact.
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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