Biggest technology acquisitions 2020

We round up the biggest technology industry mergers and acquisitions of the year so far

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“Upon the close of the transaction, Vlocity – this wonderful company that we, as a team, have created, built, and grown into a transformational solution for six of the most important industries in the enterprise – will become part of Salesforce,” Vlocity CEO David Schmaier wrote in a blog post.

21 February: Morgan Stanley to acquire ETrade for $13 billion

American investment bank Morgan Stanley made a splashy acquisition in February, picking up online brokerage ETrade for $13 billion.

Morgan Stanley is hoping that the acquisition can help boost its wealth management division by attracting younger, less affluent customers thanks to the lower margins associated with digital wealth management solutions, including robo advice and commission-free trading like that popularised by startups Robinhood in the US and Nutmeg in the UK.

Founded in 1982 and based in Silicon Valley, ETrade specialises in electronic trading of financial instruments, from common stocks to exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

"E-Trade represents an extraordinary growth opportunity for our wealth management business and a leap forward in our wealth management strategy," said Morgan Stanley chairman and CEO James Gorman in a statement.

20 February: Dialog Semiconductor acquires Adesto Technologies

UK-based Dialog Semiconductor acquired Adesto Technologies for $500 million in February. The California-based chip maker specialises in System-on-Chips (SoCs), edge router, network interfaces and resistive RAM technologies, with a specific focus on industrial IoT.

Just four months earlier Dialog also acquired German fabless chip firm Creative Chips GmbH for $80 million.

“This acquisition substantially enhances our position in the Industrial IoT market,” said Jalal Bagherli, CEO of Dialog in a statement. “Adesto’s established strength in connectivity solutions and highly optimized products for building and industrial automation perfectly complements and adds scale to our Industrial IoT portfolio from the recently acquired Creative Chips. Adesto’s deep customer relationships, comprehensive system expertise, and proprietary technology will deliver enhanced value for Dialog customers.”

19 February: Facebook takes majority control of Scape Technologies

Facebook surpassed a 75 percent majority share in London-based computer vision startup Scape Technologies in February. TechCrunch pegs the value of the deal at around $40 million. Scape's existing backers included Entrepreneur First (EF), where the company was formed, along with VC firms LocalGlobe, Mosaic Ventures, and Fly Ventures.

Scape has built a developer kit that can combine imagery, latitude and longitude data to determine the location of a device to a higher degree of accuracy than GPS.

4 February: Koch Industries acquires remaining stake in Infor

It was announced in February that the massive multinational Koch Industries had acquired the remaining equity stake in the software vendor Infor. The deal values Infor at $11 billion, or nearly $13 billion including preferred shares, according to Bloomberg. Koch has been an investor in the vendor since 2017 and reportedly held as much as a 70 percent stake before this deal. This will halt any rumours of an IPO for Infor.

Infor specialises in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, particularly focused on industry verticals and increasingly, shifting to the cloud with its CloudSuites product. It competes with the likes of Oracle, Microsoft and SAP and has a solid, loyal customer base, many of which, however, are still on-premise.

“Koch’s decision to acquire Infor is a strong endorsement of our product strategy and focus on creating innovative solutions for our customers,” said Kevin Samuelson, CEO of Infor in a statement. “As a subsidiary of a $110 billion+ revenue company that re-invests 90 percent of earnings back into its businesses, we will be in the unique position to drive digital transformation in the markets we serve. We are rapidly expanding our industry-specific CloudSuites and offering customer experiences and outcomes that are well beyond what is standard in enterprise software.”

3 February: Accenture acquires UK data consultancy Mudano

Accenture announced in February that it is acquiring UK-based data consultancy Mudano for an undisclosed amount. The firm will join Accenture’s Applied Intelligence unit, which has been on an acquisition binge as of late, acquiring the likes of Clarity Insights, Pragsis Bidoop in Spain and Analytics8 in Australia in the past

Founded in 2014, Mudano has offices across the UK and its clients tend to be in the financial services sector.

“Our research shows that UK businesses are struggling with how to scale technologies like artificial intelligence to deliver business value – and financial services is no exception,” said George Marcotte, head of Accenture's Applied Intelligence group for UK & Ireland, in a statement.

"Mudano’s focus on helping clients build a ‘data culture’ aligns perfectly to Accenture’s Applied Intelligence strategy. By creating a strong data foundation — supported by the right skills, stakeholders and technologies — our clients can transform at speed and scale and fuel real change for their business.”

22 January: ServiceNow acquires Loom Systems

ServiceNow is looking to accelerate its ability to deliver AIOps with the acquisition of Israeli startup Loom Systems for an undisclosed amount.

The SaaS giant is looking to deliver on the promise of AIOps, a model of IT where artificial intelligence techniques are leveraged to help predict and prevent issues from occurring, instead of reacting to service desk requests.

“Today, IT departments struggle to meet performance expectations and keep pace with the growth in demand for new, great digital services,” said Jeff Hausman, vice president and general manager of IT operations management at ServiceNow. “By bringing together Loom Systems’ ability to analyse log and metrics data with ServiceNow’s AIOps and workflow automation capabilities, IT departments will be able to proactively pin-point and resolve operational issues, enabling seamless experiences for their customers and employees.”

Later that month ServiceNow also acquired Passage AI, a Mountain View-based conversational AI specialist.

15 January: Apple acquires Xnor.ai for $200 million

Apple acquired Seattle-based Xnor.ai for a reported $200 million in January, according to TechCrunch.

The startup was spun out of the nonprofit Allen Institute for AI (AI2) in 2017 and specialises in machine learning and image recognition algorithms and techniques which work locally on the device.

As our Apple columnist Jonny Evans wrote at the time: "There is an obvious symmetry between the two company’s visions: Xnor.ai’s AI models that can be installed on edge devices and Apple’s strategy to invest its devices with on-board intelligence that don’t need cloud servers."

14 January: Google Cloud acquires AppSheet

Google Cloud announced the acquisition of AppSheet in January for an undisclosed amount. The Seattle-based startup specialises in no code software development, allowing customers to build simple business applications without having to know how to write code.

AppSheet was founded by Praveen Seshadri and his old Cornell student Brian Sabino in 2014 and had secured a modest $18.5 million in funding to date, so it is safe to assume this wasn't a blockbuster acquisition by the cloud vendor but it does fit with the company's broader desire to democratise application development.

"We are philosophically and strategically aligned with Google Cloud in a shared commitment to a no-code platform," AppSheet CEO Praveen Seshadri wrote in a blog post. "The AppSheet platform has been live for more than five years. As we’ve matured, so has the IT industry, and there is now a tremendous pent-up demand for enterprise automation. With the rise of low- and no-code platforms, citizen development has emerged as the strategic way for modern organisations to invest, innovate, and compete."

13 January: Visa to acquire Plaid for $5.3 billion

Payments giant Visa has announced that it will be acquiring the fintech startup Plaid for $5.3 billion in cash.

The San Francisco-based startup has built what is essentially an identity layer which can seamlessly link together customer's bank accounts with popular fintech apps like TransferWise or Venmo via a set of secure APIs.

The $5.3 billion price tag will raise some eyebrows as it represents a steep premium on its last private valuation of nearer $2.65 billion, following a $250 million Series C funding round in December 2018, of which Visa and its rival Mastercard were also investors.

“Plaid’s mission is to make money easier for everyone, and we are excited for this opportunity to continue delivering on that promise at a global scale,” said Zach Perret, CEO and co-founder of Plaid in a statement. “Visa is trusted by billions of consumers, businesses and financial institutions as a key part of the financial ecosystem, and together Visa and Plaid can support the rapid growth of digital financial services.”

9 January: Insight Partners to acquire Veeam for $5 billion

Private equity firm Insight Partners announced that it is purchasing the Swiss data management specialist Veeam for approximately $5 billion in January. Insight had invested $500 million in the firm last year.

Under Insight the vendor will become a US company under the leadership of new CEO William Largent, having previously held the role of executive vice president of operations. Danny Allan has also been promoted to CTO from vice president of product strategy.

“Veeam has enjoyed rapid global growth over the last decade and we see tremendous opportunity for future growth, particularly in the U.S. market. With the acquisition, we are excited that our current U.S. workforce of more than 1,200 will be expanded and strengthened to acquire and support more customers,” Largent said in a statement. “Veeam has one of the highest caliber global workforces of any technology company, and we believe this acquisition will allow us to scale our team and technology at an unrivalled pace.”

7 January: Appian acquires RPA vendor Novayre Solutions

Low-code app development specialist Appian announced its first ever acquisition, snapping up Spanish robotic process automation (RPA) specialist Novayre Solutions SL in January for an undisclosed amount.

Essentially Appian wants to combine its low-code development capabilities with the ability to program software bots to automatically complete simple business tasks in one platform.

Read next: Appian CEO Matt Calkins: openness is the way to go

“Appian is extending our lead in low-code automation by adding RPA,” said Appian CEO Matt Calkins in a statement. “Together, the products enable end-to-end process orchestration where humans, software robots, and AI all work together in a coordinated way.”

7 January: Accenture acquires Symnatec's Cyber Security Services business from Broadcom

Professional services giant Accenture agreed to acquire Symnatec's Cyber Security Services business from Broadcom for an undisclosed amount in January. That business unit and its 300 employees will be folded into Accenture's own security practice, including its global threat monitoring and analysis capabilities, its global network of security operation centres and various threat intelligence and incident response services.

“Cybersecurity has become one of the most critical business imperatives for all organisations regardless of industry or geographic location,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture’s CEO in a statement. “With the addition of Symantec’s Cyber Security Services business, Accenture Security will offer one of the most comprehensive managed services for global businesses to detect and manage cybersecurity threats aimed at their companies.”

This also marks the latest in a recent spate of acquisitions by Accenture in the security space, including Deja vu Security, iDefense, Maglan, Redcore, Arismore and FusionX.

6 January: Insight Partners acquires Armis

Just three days before snapping up Veeam, Insight had already put pen to paper on the $1.1 billion acquisition of Israeli cybersecurity firm Armis. Google's capital arm CapitalG is also contributing $100 million to the deal, as well as some existing stockholders. The startup had raised $112 million to date, with Insight being a previous investor.

Founded in 2015 by Yevgeny Dibrov, Tomer Schwartz, and Nadir Izrael and now based in California, the vendor specialises in "agentless" IoT security, allowing enterprises to manage and control their device fleets securely. Dibrov and Izrael will continue to lead the company under Insight's ownership as CEO and CTO, respectively.

Dibrov said in a statement: “Insight is one of the most sophisticated software investors in the sector, and it is due to the depth of their domain expertise that they really understand the enterprise IoT device challenge we are looking to solve, and the size of the market opportunity. We considered growth rounds and strategic offers, but by partnering with Insight we have the best of both worlds - operational support and independence, both of which were important in our decision to take on a scaleup partner this early in our company journey.”

Read next from CSO.com: 10 biggest cybersecurity M&A deals of 2019

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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