The Eagle Blog

IT Industry News for May 2010

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for May 2010. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which is available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

Three years ago in May 2007 there was some interesting, and big dollar, M&A activity largely involving private equity. Goldman Sachs and Texas Pacific Group paid $27 Billion for Alltel, the 5th largest cell phone company in the US, Microsoft made its largest acquisition ever (at the time), paying $6 Billion for aQuantive, an internet advertising company. The other big deal was the sale of Axiom, again to equity firms, for $3 Billion.

Two years ago in May 2008 HP paid almost $14 Billion for EDS, there was an aborted attempt by Microsoft to buy Yahoo and CBS paid $1.75 Billion for the CNet suite of web based sites. There was also much concern about the impending economic crisis.

Last year in May 2009 the early signs of a recovery were evident. Oil was well into the $60 plus range, the Canadian dollar broke 90 cents US and Canada’s trade surplus situation improved. Some of the reports released were; The Global Technology Distribution Council said the downturn had leveled off; the US Conference Board leading indicator rose for the first time in 7 months; Stats Canada reported the number of people employed in Canada rose, based largely on self-employed people; and Spherion’s employee confidence index was up too. There were however still bad-news stories, revenue at the large staffing companies was down 30% in the first quarter; Sony (8,000), BT (15,000), Seagate (1,100) and HP (6,000) all announced new layoffs, while Microsoft continued with its second round of planned layoffs. On the M&A front the telcos continue to feel pain with Verizon selling off 14 states worth of wireline assets to Frontier Communications for $8.6 Billion. Facebook received an injection of $200 million from Digital Sky Technologies (which would value the company at $10 Billion); and NetApp paid $1.5 Billion for Data Domain.

In May Twenty-Ten the world is in much better shape economically, but there are still plenty of concerns ranging from the financial impact of the volcanic ash on the world’s airline industry, to the meltdown of the Greek economy and the lingering effects of the recession including the debts that countries incurred to help the recovery.

On the mergers and acquisitions front the big deal was SAP‘s $5.8 Billion purchase of Sybase, reportedly more for its mobile capabilities than its database. Google was busy this month, picking up two companies GIPS and BumpTop and investing in a third, Recorded Future (a company that claims to forecast the future). Cisco is a perennial purchaser and added a couple of more companies to its stable, Moto Development and CoreOptics. The other big dollar deal was Symantec‘s $1.28 Billion deal to buy the security assets of Verisign. Other household names out shopping included Oracle which picked up Secerno; IBM which bought Cast Iron systems and Yahoo that paid about $100 million for Associated Content “the People’s Media Company”.

Elsewhere Europe’s AntiTrust regulators fined nine semiconductor companies for price fixing. There was also positive news out of Europe that the economic recovery is in progress, Statistics Canada reported a jump of 108,700 new jobs in April and online recruitment activity in Europe reached a 12 month high.

comScore reported that YouTube viewers accounted for about 75% of the 180 million internet users who watched video in March. Along the same lines UKOM reported that British web users are spending 65% more time online than just three ago!

We live in a complicated world and the last month has demonstrated that a recovery is under way, but we still have some way to go before we get “there’ . and hopefully “there” is a good place to be!!!

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 June 2010 industry news in just about a month’s time.

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