This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for December 2015. 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 Decembers …
Sometimes we think IT news in December can be slow, but the last 5 years might belie that theory! Five years ago in December 2010 there was plenty of action. Dell made two storage acquisitions, Compellent Technologies ($820 million) and Insite one. Siemens and Atos Origin formed a new European IT outsourcing company in a deal worth more than $1 billion. J2 global Communications bought (Ottawa based) Protus IP Solutions ($213 million); Juniper Networks bought Altor networks for $95 million; Salesforce.com bought a software development platform Ruby from Heroku for $212 million; Earthlink paid $370 million for One Communications; BMC Software bought GridApp Systems; and L&T infotech established a significant Canadian presence through the acquisition of Citigroup’s IT outsourcing arm. In December 2011 Ottawa’s March Networks was snapped up by Infinova Canada for $90 million, and Toronto based Rypple was acquired by Salesforce.com! the BIG deal was SAP’s $3.4 billion purchase of SuccessFactors, who had also announced they were buying Jobs2Web for $110 milion. It was IBM that was the most active acquirer of the month, paying $440 million for DemandTec, also picking up Emptoris in the procurement world and Irish company Curam Software in the government sector. Three years ago in December 2012 there was a fair amount of M&A activity with Oracle making two acquisitions, marketing automation company Eloqua ($871 million) and Dataraker which provides analytics for utilities companies. The big deal of the month saw Sprint pay $2.2 Billion to take full control of cellular competitor Clearwire. Montreal based Cogeco paid $635 million for Peer 1 Networks and NCR paid $635 million for retail software and services company Retalix. In the BYOD space Citrix bought mobile device management company Zenprise for $355 million. Finally, Redknee added 1200 employees and 130 new clients through the purchase of Nokia Siemens Business Support Network. December 2013 was a slow month, however Oracle pulled off a $1.5 Billion buy of marketing software company Responsys; Akamai paid $370 million for cloud-based security solutions provider Prolexic; JDS Uniphase paid $200 million for enterprise performance management company Network Instruments; IBM bought a “big data” file compression company Aspera and Hitachi expended its solutions capability with the purchase of Calgary based Ideaca. In other company news Target, although not an IT company, had a major security breach involving details of 40 million debit and credit
cards. Last year, December 2014 was not such a slow news month, with the political and technical ramifications of “the Sony hack” causing uproar and some big names making acquisitions, albeit not huge deals. Microsoft made two acquisitions, the $200 million purchase of mobile email app startup Acompli and mobile development company HockeyApp (which has nothing to do with hockey). SAP bought travel and expense management company Concur; Intel bought a Montreal based identity management company PasswordBox; Oracle bought digital marketing company Datalogix; Teradata bought data archiving company Rainstor; and MongoDB bought high-scale storage engine company WiredTiger.
Which brings us back to the present …
December 2015 was not a particularly busy M&A month but there was some interesting activity. The big deal saw Canadian telco Shaw make a big play into the cellular space with its proposed acquisition of Wind for $1.6 billion. Meanwhile Rogers was also out shopping and growing its Maritimes presence through the acquisition of Internetworking Atlantic Inc. Other deals in December were not large but did feature some of the big players. Oracle bought Stackhouse a cloud company with a specialization in “containers”; IBM boosted its video in the cloud capabilities with the purchase of Clearleap; and Microsoft picked up a mobile communications company, Talko. Other deals saw Ingram Micro buy the Odin Service Automation business from Parallels and in the storage world Carbonite bought Evault from Seagate.
Other companies in the news include the venerable Toshiba, which has been decimated following the financial scandals it suffered. It looks like layoffs might reach 10,000 as it undergoes a massive restructuring. Oracle announced an investment in Austin, Texas to build a campus attracting new grads and Samsung and Apple might have settled a five year patent dispute. An IDC report was bad news for Blackberry, as it forecasts that IOS, Android and Windows will be the top smartphone platforms for the foreseeable future.
On the economic front the US economy shows no sign of slowing down, adding another 250,000 jobs in November. All of the indicators were positive, with four separate surveys indicating that companies were going to be growing their tech employee base in 2016. Canada however is another story, losing 35,700 jobs in November, albeit many of them temporary jobs associated with the election. The unemployment rate did edge up to 7.1% and while the third quarter saw GDP rise slightly after two quarters of contraction, the economy continues to sputter. Having said that, demand for professionals is increasing faster than supply and Canada is anticipating an increase in skills shortages.
I have to say that 2015 was not a great year in Canada’s economy, but maybe the US recovery will have a drag along effect for Canada in 2016? We can hope! That’s my look at the tech news for December 2015. Until next month, walk fast and smile!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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