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?

Jigsaw puzzle pieces coming together.
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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:

Oct. 11: Emerson plans to merge its industrial-software businesses with AspenTech

Emerson Electric Co. has announced it will merge its software units with smaller rival Aspen Technology in a deal worth about $11 billion. The newly merged company will comprise Emerson's grid modernization technology and geological simulation software, and AspenTech's software offerings to mining, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical industries.

"We saw an attractive opportunity to accelerate our software strategy to capitalize on the rapidly evolving industrial software landscape," Emerson CEO Lal Karsanbhai said. "Our customers are increasingly seeking partners to help realize stronger performance as they automate workflows."

The cash-and-stock deal is for about $160 per share, with AspenTech shareholders set to receive $87 and 0.42 shares of the combined company for each share they currently own.

Oct. 7: Microsoft acquires Ally.io for undisclosed price

Microsoft announced that it has acquired Ally.io, a software service that helps companies measure their progress against OKRs (objectives and key results). Microsoft plans to incorporate Ally.io into its Viva family of employee-experience products, providing a more transparent way to communicate company goals and objectives to workers.

“Aligning employee work to the company’s strategic mission and core priorities is top of mind for every organization. To do this, leaders need to invest in tools that communicate transparency around big company bets and create ways to cascade aspirational goals and report results at all levels of an organization,” Kirk Koenigsbauer, chief operating officer and corporate vice president in charge of experiences and devices, wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.

Oct. 6: Siemens acquires Wattsense

Siemens Smart Infrastructure has completed the acquisition of French startup Wattsense, a hardware and software firm that offers IoT management systems for small and mid-size buildings. Wattsense enables the adoption of energy management practices in facilities with little or no building management system technology.

“Together with Wattsense, we will accelerate the adoption of IoT systems in a wider range of buildings, bringing the sustainability, comfort and cost benefits to more people and businesses,” said Henning Sandfort, CEO of building products at Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “The SaaS business model and innovative technology stack of Wattsense perfectly complement our growing digital portfolio for our customers.”

Oct. 4: NetApp to Acquire CloudCheckr

NetApp announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire CloudCheckr, expanding its Spot by NetApp CloudOps platform.

CloudCheckr is a leading cloud optimization platform that provides cloud visibility and insights to lower costs, maintain security and compliance, and optimize cloud resources. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

In a statement, Anthony Lye, executive vice president and general manager of NetApp’s Public Cloud Services business unit said: “By adding cloud billing analytics, cost management capabilities, cloud compliance and security to our CloudOps platform through the acquisition of CloudCheckr, we are enabling organizations to deploy infrastructure and business applications faster while reducing their capital and operational costs.”

Oct. 4: Qualcomm acquires Veoneer for $4.5B

Qualcomm scored the purchase of Swedish automotive tech company Veoneer, outbidding Magna International who had already agreed to by Veoneer.

Under the deal, Qualcomm and New York-based SSW Partners will acquire Veoneer for $37 a share. SSW Partners will then sell Veoneer’s autonomous-driving software operation known as Arriver to Qualcomm and find owners for the rest of its businesses. As a result of the new deal, Veoneer will pay Magna a “breakup fee” of $110 million.

“Qualcomm is the natural owner of Arriver. By integrating these assets, Qualcomm accelerates its ability to deliver a leading and horizontal ADAS solution as part of its digital chassis platform,” said Cristiano Amon, president and CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated.

The acquisition has been accepted by the Qualcomm and Veoneer boards of directors, but will require regulatory approval. If the deal moves forward, it is expected to close in 2022.

Sept. 29: Blue Prism acquired by Vista, to become part of Tibco

Blue Prism has acquired robotic process automation vendor Blue Prism for $1.5 billion and plans to combine the company with Tibco.
Founded in 2001, UK-based Blue Prism offers a no-code automation platform that enables organizations to automate certain processes, with capabilities including the Intelligent Automation Platform, Blue Prism Clou,d and Automation Lifecycle Management.

"Combining with Vista and Tibco will ensure we remain at the forefront of the next generation of intelligent automation," Blue Prism CEO Jason Kingdon said. "We can expand the range of products we offer our customers with Tibco's global footprint and technologies and, as a privately owned company, we will also have greater access to capital to pursue new growth opportunities via product investment and other potential M&A."

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.

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