This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for February 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 Februarys …
Five years ago in February 2010 M&A activity was slow with no huge buys. Google bought Aardvark; Oracle purchased a couple of smaller entities; IBM bought a small network software company that focuses on the telco vertical; and Sybase bought a company that has a strong foothold in the financial services vertical. There were lots of signs that the recovery was under way and Canada saw some job growth after a period of decline. February 2011 was another quiet month for M&A with HP buying Vertica; Opentext bought Metastorm ($182 million); and Rackspace acquired Anso Labs. World news was dominated by the popular uprisings in a growing number of countries and the reactions of those governments including the brutality of Gaddafi’s Libyan supporters. Three 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. Two 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. Last year in February 2014 it 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.
Which brings us back to the present …
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 … maybe I should register!
The US economy continues its recovery with almost every indicator being extremely positive. Confidence indicators, GDP, unemployment figures … all show an economy that is growing. So much so that the number one concern of businesses is now the talent shortage! Canada on the other hand is not so buoyant and continues to “go sideways” … clearly not helped by the price of a barrel of oil these days, and Obama playing politics by vetoing the Keystone Project.
In other news supporters of net neutrality had a victory this month when the US Federal Communications Commission voted in their favor. Another Bitcoin exchange went bust, this time amidst rumors of some less than ethical practices. Gartner tells us that worldwide IT spending will increase, Careerbuilder tell us more people want to (need to?) work after retirement and the growth of smartphone sales keeps on rolling.
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 at the end of March, until then … walk fast and smile!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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