Noteworthy technology acquisitions 2021

Global tech merger-and-acquisition deals totaled $634.1 billion in 2020, an increase of 91.8% year-on-year. Can 2021 match that for blockbuster activity?

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Amid the coronavirus, 2020 was unpredictable in more ways than anyone would have expected. But one thing that stayed fairly constant was the steady flow of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) across the tech sector.

Global tech M&A deals last year totalled $634 billion, a 91.8% year-over-year increase, according to GlobalData. Among a late flurry of big deals was the $35 billion acquisition of Xilinx by Advanced Micro Devices and Salesforce's $27.7 billion acquisition of Slack.

As for whether 2021 will maintain last year’s pace, if the first part of the year is anything to go by, there will be no slowing of big deals across the industry, with silicon innovations and collaboration software already proving to be hot areas.

Here are the biggest enterprise technology acquisitions of 2021 so far, in reverse chronological order:

Sept. 13: Intuit buys Mailchimp for $12B

Intuit, best known for its financial service offerings, is set to acquire the email marketing company Mailchimp for $12 billion in cash and stock.

As part of the agreement, Mailchimp will work with QuickBooks, Intuit's accounting software, to help small and medium-sized businesses acquire and retain customers.

In a statement on the acquisition, Intuit said that the deal advances its “powering prosperity around the world, and its strategy to become an AI-driven expert platform.”

The company added that its Mailchimp buy would allow it to “work to deliver on the vision of an innovative, end-to-end customer growth platform for small and mid-market businesses, allowing them to get their business online, market their business, manage customer relationships…and have experts at their ”

Sept. 1: Apollo Global Management acquires Yahoo for $5B

Private equity firm Apollo Global Management has completed its acquisition of Yahoo, formerly known as Verizon Media Group, from Verizon. The deal is valued at $5 billion, including $4.25 billion in cash, with Verizon retaining 10% of the newly rebranded company.

“We look forward to partnering with Yahoo’s talented employee base to build on the company’s strong momentum and position the new Yahoo for long-term success as a standalone consumer internet and digital media leader,” Apollo Partner Reed Rayman said in a statement announcing the news. “We couldn’t be more excited about this next chapter for Yahoo as we look to invest in growth across the business, including accelerating its customer-first offerings and commerce capabilities, expanding its reach and enhancing the daily user experience.”

Aug. 26: Zendesk acquires AI startup Cleverly

Zendesk is looking to grow its customer service capabilities with the acquisition of artificial intelligence (AI) startup Cleverly

Cleverly’s product platform offers a series of AI-powered capabilities, including what the company refers to as AI-powered human augmentation; its agent assist capability aims to help customer service agents provide the right answers to inquiries. The company’s technology already integrates with Zendesk, as well as with Salesforce.

“With Cleverly, we will deliver a range of capabilities that automate key insights, further reduce manual tasks and improve workflows, and overall lead to happier, more productive support teams,” Shawna Wolverton, executive vice president of product at Zendesk, said in a statement. “We will have more news to share on that front once the team is up and running.”

Aug. 19: Adobe buys Frame.io for $1.275B

Adobe announced it is acquiring Frame.io, a video review and collaboration platform for $1.275 billion in cash.

The Frame.io platform helps creative professionals streamline the video creation process by centralizing dailies, scripts, storyboards, works-in-progress, and more, while also allowing for frame-accurate feedback and comments, annotations, and real-time approvals. The company also touts faster upload speeds than other cloud hosting services such as Vimeo, Box, and Dropbox.

In a statement about the acquisition, Adobe said the combination of its creative software and Frame.io’s review and approval functions “deliver[s] a collaboration platform that powers the video editing process.”

Aug. 16: Cisco acquires app-monitoring startup Epsagon

Cisco announced it’s acquiring Israeli applications-monitoring startup Epsagon at a price pegged at $500 million.

The acquisition comes after two other high-profile app-monitoring deals for Cisco, including AppDynamics, which the company bought in 2018 for $3.7 billion, and ThousandEyes, which it nabbed last year for $1 billion.

Epsagon is built from the ground up to monitor modern applications built with containers and Kubernetes giving users tracing and metrics.

“Cisco’s approach to full-stack observability gives our customers the ability to move beyond just monitoring to a paradigm that delivers shared context across teams and enables our customers to deliver exceptional digital experiences, optimize for cost, security and performance and maximize digital business revenue,” Liz Centoni Cisco’s senior vice president & chief strategy officer, wrote in a blog post.

Aug. 10: Microsoft buys Peer5 to boost Teams

Microsoft is working to bolster live video streaming in Teams by acquiring electronic content-delivery network (eCDN) vendor Peer5.

Peer5 runs in browsers to optimize bandwidth usage for line-of-business applications and has mesh networks that can automatically scale as the number of viewers increases. Peer5's technology doesn't require additional installation on user endpoints or any changes to physical network infrastructure.

“As Microsoft Teams has become the primary communications and collaboration platform for many of our customers, they’ve asked us for more integrated…solutions for large-scale meetings and virtual events,” Nicole Herskowitz wrote in a Teams blog post. “Peer5…expand[s] our ability for delivering secure, high-quality, large-scale live video streaming with optimized network performance in Teams.”

Aug. 2: Salesforce to acquire Servicetrace

Salesforce has inked a deal to acquire Servicetrace, a leading provider of robotic process automation (RPA). Though the companies haven’t made the purchase price public, Salesforce intends to make Servicetrace part of Mulesoft, the company it bought in 2018 for $6.5 billion.

Servicetrace was founded in 2004 and has had a number of its products rated favorably by analysts, including its intelligent process recorder and scaling technology, as well as its integrated ROI analytics and Kanban board for collaborative projects.

“The combination of integration, API management, and automation is required for companies to scale and increase the speed of work — from streamlining sales operations to speeding up customer case resolution. And that’s why we’re thrilled to bring together Servicetrace’s leading RPA solution with our leading API and integration platform,” Mulesoft CEO Brent Hayward wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.

Aug. 2: Square takes over Afterpay for $29B

Square, the digital payments platform co-founded by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, has agreed to take over Afterpay, the Australian "Buy now, pay later" firm, for $29 billion.

Founded in 2014 by Australians Nick Molnar and Anthony Eisen, Afterpay has more than 16 million customers and is used by 100 million businesses around the world. The company is currently a leader in a growing sector of the online payments market that allows consumers to pay for their purchases in installments.

The agreement means that Afterpay will be able to expand more quickly in the US, where the company’s sales nearly tripled over the last year to $8.15 billion.

“Square and Afterpay have a shared purpose,” said Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Square. “We built our business to make the financial system more fair, accessible, and inclusive, and Afterpay has built a trusted brand aligned with those principles. Together, we can better connect our Cash App and Seller ecosystems to deliver even more compelling products and services for merchants and consumers, putting the power back in their hands.”

July 29: Qualtrics acquires Clarabridge for $1.125B

Qualtrics announced it’s acquiring Clarabridge in an all-stock deal worth $1.125 billion.

Spun out of SAP SE before going public earlier this year, Qualtrics makes software that helps companies gather customer feedback about their experiences with products and services. Clarabridge’s software uses artificial intelligence to comb indirect sources like social media posts and customer support calls for information about how customers felt about a brand.

“Clarabridge’s ability to help companies discover what their customers are saying about them across unstructured sources and provide meaningful, actionable insights is a perfect complement to the Qualtrics platform,” Clarabridge CEO Mark Bishof said in a statement. “What we deliver is far more powerful as part of Qualtrics, and we have an incredible opportunity to accelerate our growth and innovation as part of the world’s [No. 1] experience management company.”

July 27: HP to acquire Teradici Corporation for an undisclosed amount

HP is buying high-performance remote computing software firm Teradici in a deal expected to close during the fourth quarter of the year. According to HP, the move “will enhance the company’s capabilities in the Personal Systems category by delivering new compute models and services tailored for hybrid work.”

“Teradici’s cutting-edge technology has long been at the forefront of secure, high-performance virtual computing,” said Alex Cho, president for ersonal systems at HP. “Their world-class talent, industry-leading IP, and strong integrations with all major public cloud providers will expand our addressable market, and meet growing customer needs for more mobile, flexible, and secure computing solutions."

July 27: Shutterstock buys three AI companies for $35M

Stock media site Shutterstock made a trio of acquisitions in July, ahead of announcing a new artificial intelligence unit called Shutterstock.AI.

The three companies are campaign performance optimization tool maker Pattern89; digital asset recommendation engine Datasine; and predictive image selector Shotzr. The total cost of the acquisitions was around $35 million.

The new unit is designed to help Shutterstock customers find the right content for their campaigns from the 400 million images, videos, music tracks, and 3D models in the Shutterstock media library.

“With these three acquisitions, Shutterstock.AI will help our customers globally solve the biggest creative challenge they have — discovering and selecting the right content that is relevant, and that resonates with audiences. We want our customers to create with confidence,” Shutterstock CEO Stan Pavlovsky said in a statement.

July: 22 Visa to acquire Currencycloud for $700M

Visa continued its European fintech buying streak in July, acquiring London-based startup Currencycloud for $700 million. This followed the June acquisition of Swedish open banking startup Tink for $2.15 billion (see below for details).

Founded in 2007, Currencycloud has built an API-based foreign exchange and cross-border payments platform, which allows banks and financial services to provide foreign exchange services to customers.
“The acquisition of Currencycloud is another example of Visa executing on our network of networks strategy to facilitate global money movement,” Colleen Ostrowski, Visa’s Global Treasurer, said in a statement. “Consumers and businesses increasingly expect transparency, speed and simplicity when making or receiving international payments. With our acquisition of Currencycloud, we can support our clients and partners to further reduce the pain points of cross-border payments and develop great user experiences for their customers.”

Visa says that Currencycloud will continue to operate from London under the existing management team.

July 21: Microsoft acquires CloudKnox

Microsoft made its second cybersecurity acquisition of the month when it announced the purchase of CloudKnox, a five-year-old California-based specialist in multicloud security.

CloudKnox software helps organizations spot and remove vulnerable permissions to cloud resources, and flag unusual activity to security teams. This technology will bolster Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory across hybrid and multicloud environments.

“CloudKnox offers complete visibility into privileged access,” Joy Chik, corporate vice president for Microsoft Identity, wrote in a blog post. "It helps organizations right-size permissions and consistently enforce least-privilege principles to reduce risk, and it employs continuous analytics to help prevent security breaches and ensure compliance. This strengthens our comprehensive approach to cloud security."

July 18: Zoom acquires Five9 for $14.7B

Videoconferencing giant Zoom made its biggest acquisition to date, purchasing the contact center technology provider Five9 for $14.7 billion in an all-stock transaction.

Five9 is a 20-year-old California company that specializes in flexible cloud-based contact center technology, as opposed to traditional on-premise systems for contact center staff. Five9 competes with the likes of Twilio, Talkdesk, Genesys and cloud giant Amazon Web Services in what is becoming a crowded space.

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