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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June 25: AWS to acquire Wickr

Cloud giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the purchase of secure messaging service Wickr for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition comes as AWS continues to push its services into the public and military sectors. “This gives security conscious enterprises and government agencies the ability to implement important governance and security controls to help them meet their compliance requirements,” AWS CISO Stephen Schmidt wrote in a blog post.

AWS says it will offer Wickr services to customers immediately; existing customers should notice no change.

June 24: Visa to acquire Tink for $2.15B

Payments giant Visa announced the planned acquisition of European fintech firm Tink for €1.8 billion ($2.15 billion) in June. The news comes just months after Visa abandoned a planned $5.3 billion acquisition of US firm Plaid, which builds similar technology, in the face of significant regulatory issues.

Based in Sweden, Tink has built an API that allows customers greater access to their bank account and payments data, allowing them to be collected in a single place and opening up a new range of digital banking services. This is possible thanks to new European Open Banking rules, which force banks to open up customer data to verified third parties.

“Joining Visa, we will be able to move faster and reach further than ever before. Visa is the perfect partner for the next stage of Tink’s journey, and we are incredibly excited about what this will bring to our employees, customers and for the future of financial services,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement.

June 21: Hyundai takes controlling stake in Boston Dynamics

South Korean automaker Hyundai announced it had taken a controlling stake in US robotics company Boston Dynamics in June, valuing the company at $1.1 billion.

Best known for its robot dog Spot and its warehouse robot, Handle — as well as haunting people’s nightmares on social media — Boston Dynamics has carved out an impressive reputation for itself in the still nascent robotics space.

“We and Hyundai share a view of the transformational power of mobility and look forward to working together to accelerate our plans to enable the world with cutting-edge automation, and to continue to solve the world’s hardest robotics challenges for our customers,” Boston Dynamics CEO Rob Playter said in a statement.

June 2: Prosus acquires Stack Overflow for $1.8B

Popular programming Q&A website Stack Overflow was acquired by South African investment firm Prosus for $1.8 billion in June.

“The most important part of this announcement is that Stack Overflow will continue to operate independently, with the exact same team in place that has been operating it, according to the exact same plan and the exact same business practices," Stack Overflow cofounder Joel Spolsky wrote in a blog post at the time. "Don’t expect to see major changes or awkward 'synergies.' The business of Stack Overflow will continue to focus on Reach and Relevance, and Stack Overflow for Teams. The entire company is staying in place: we just have different owners now."

May 11: Jamf acquires Wandera for $400M

Enterprise Apple device management specialist Jamf agreed to acquire zero trust cloud security company Wandera in May for $400 million. Jamf will look to bring Wandera’s mobile security capabilities into its own Apple device management suite.  

“In order to lead Apple Enterprise Management and best serve the growing number of organizations using Apple at work, Jamf needs to fill the gap between what users want and what the enterprise requires,” said Jamf CEO Dean Hage in a statement. “The combination of Wandera and Jamf will provide our customers a single source platform that handles deployment, Application Lifecycle Management, policies, filtering, and security capabilities across all Apple devices while delivering Zero Trust Network Access for all mobile workers.”

May 10: ServiceNow acquires Lightstep

ServiceNow acquired software observability specialist Lightstep for an undisclosed amount. Observability is a hot technology area this year due to the increased complexity of enterprise systems in the cloud era, meaning engineers and tech leaders want more insight into how their systems are performing and what is causing issues — quickly. Post-acquisition, ServiceNow will look to bring these capabilities together with its existing tools, which are used by IT teams to respond to issues.

Founded in San Francisco by ex-Googlers, Lightstep had already raised around $70 million in venture funding from the likes of Sequoia, Redpoint, and Altimeter.

“This acquisition is going to help a great deal: ServiceNow’s customers run many of the most critical software applications in the world! As part of ServiceNow, Lightstep will be in a far better position to reach these customers, deliver our product, and help them innovate faster – with clarity and confidence,” Lightstep cofounder and CEO Ben Sigelman wrote in a blog post.

ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott was an acquisitive chief during his time at SAP and appears to be taking this strategy with him in the new role, adding half a dozen new companies already since joining in 2019.

May 3: Dell sells Boomi for $4B

Dell made the second high-profile move to restructure its business in the space of a month by selling the integration specialist Boomi, which it acquired in 2010, to private equity firms Francisco Partners and TPG for $4 billion. This follows the earlier decision to spin out its VMware business in April.

“The ability to integrate and connect data and workflows across any combination of applications or domains is a critical business capability, and we strongly believe that Boomi is well positioned to help companies of all sizes turn data into their most valuable asset,” Francisco CEO Dipanjan Deb and partner Brian Decker said in a statement.

April 30: IBM acquires Turbonomic

IBM announced the acquisition of Turbonomic at the end of April for an undisclosed amount.

The Boston, MA-based company specializes in Application Resource Management (ARM) and Network Performance Management (NPM) software; it uses machine learning to spot application performance issues and optimize underlying resources, whether that involves containers, VMs, servers, storage, networks, and databases.

The acquisition is similar to the pick-up of Instana last year, as IBM looks to jump on the observability bandwagon. These acquisitions will all help IBM offer a greater range of AIOps and observability options for customers, particularly through its IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps.

“IBM continues to reshape its future as a hybrid cloud and AI company,” Rob Thomas, senior vice president, IBM Cloud and Data Platform, said in a statement. “The Turbonomic acquisition is yet another example of our commitment to making the most impactful investments to advance this strategy and ensure customers find the most innovative ways to fuel their digital transformations.”

April 29: Microsoft acquires Kinvolk

Microsoft made a move to boost its capabilities in the Kubernetes space with the acquisition of German firm Kinvolk for an undisclosed amount.

Founded in 2015, Kinvolk has been building enterprise-grade tools to help developers adopt cloud-native technologies like containers and Kubernetes, including Flatcar Container Linux, as an alternative to CoreOS Container Linux, as well as the Lokomotive and Inspektor Gadget projects.

Microsoft expects to integrate the Kinvolk team and technology into the team responsible for its managed Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), its hybrid solution Azure Arc, and to boost Microsoft’s upstream open-source contributions.

“We’re excited to bring the Kinvolk team and their technologies to Microsoft and look forward to the contributions they bring to Azure, our customers, and the open source community,” Brendan Burns, corporate vice president, Azure Compute wrote in a company post.

April 23: Panasonic acquires Blue Yonder for $7.1B

Panasonic acquired the remaining 80% of shares in Blue Yonder in April, spending $7.1 billion, including the repayment of debt.

Arizona-based Blue Yonder specializes in automated supply chain software that uses AI, IoT, and edge computing technology to track goods. Panasonic will look to add these capabilities to its Autonomous Supply Chain offering, which helps customers better track their supply chain and predict future demand for better efficiency. 

“I’m extremely happy to welcome Blue Yonder and its associates to the Panasonic Group. Both companies have the same mission to support customers’ frontline operations and we have a high affinity in our corporate cultures. By merging the two companies, we would like to realize a world where waste is autonomously eliminated from all supply chain operations and the cycle of sustainable improvement continues,” Panasonic CEO Yuki Kusumi said in a statement.

April 15: IBM to acquire myInvenio

IBM acquired process automation specialist myInvenio for an undisclosed amount. The Italian firm specializes in process mining, a fairly nascent technology that allows enterprises to identify inefficient business processes and find opportunities for greater automation using data and software.

The acquisition marked the continuation of a bit of a trend, as fellow vendor SAP acquired process automation specialist Signavio earlier this year (see below). IBM will fold myInvenio into its existing Automation business unit.

"Digital transformation is accelerating across industries as companies face increasing challenges with managing critical IT systems and complex business applications that span the hybrid cloud landscape," Dinesh Nirmal, general manager for IBM Automation, said in a statement. "With IBM's planned acquisition of myInvenio, we are continuing to invest in building the industry's most comprehensive suite of AI-powered automation capabilities for business automation so that our customers can help employees re-claim their time to focus on more strategic work."

April 12: Microsoft to acquire Nuance for $19.7B

Microsoft unveiled the biggest acquisition of the year so far when it announced the purchase of Nuance for $19.7 billion in an all-cash deal.

Based in Burlington, MA., Nuance specializes in conversational artificial intelligence (AI) and speech recognition technology, primarily aimed at helping healthcare workers streamline the capture and interrogation of clinical information to free up their time. Microsoft will be eying its capabilities to complement its existing Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare product, one of a growing selection of industry-focused cloud suites.

“Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate growth of Microsoft Cloud in Healthcare and Nuance.”

March 31: Hitachi acquires GlobalLogic for $9.6B

Japanese conglomerate Hitachi announced it is acquiring tech services outsourcing company GlobalLogic in a $9.6 billion deal that includes repayment of debt at the end of March.

Based in Silicon Valley, GlobalLogic works with customers such as McDonald’s and Reuters to build digital services and products and has more than $1 billion in annual revenues. Hitachi will look to combine GlobalLink with its own technology units, specifically Lumada.

"The acquisition of GlobalLogic creates an exciting new opportunity for Hitachi to expand our offerings of Lumada solutions and services, provide value to customers in their digital transformation journey, and grow our Lumada business globally,” Hitachi CEO Toshiaki Higashihara said in a statement. “The synergy of GlobalLogic's leading experience design and innovation with Hitachi's expertise in IT, operational technology, and products, will help us realize our goal to be the leading digital transformation innovator in social infrastructure worldwide.”

March 23: UiPath acquires Cloud Elements

On the same day ServiceNow made a robotic process automation (RPA) acquisition, RPA vendor UiPath made an addition of its own, picking up the Denver, CO-based firm Cloud Elements for an undisclosed amount.

Cloud Elements specializes in API integration, similar to Mulesoft and Apigee, which are now part of Salesforce and Google, respectively. For UiPath, this capability could allow customers to better link processes that span various enterprise systems to build more effective automations.

“By making automation both easier and faster to deploy, the UiPath Platform has the capability of significantly improving some of the most costly and time-consuming activities of the modern enterprise. The acquisition of Cloud Elements is just one example of how we are building a flexible and scalable enterprise-ready platform that helps customers become fully automated enterprises,” UiPath CEO Daniel Dines said in a statement.

March 23: ServiceNow acquires Indian RPA company Intellibot

ServiceNow moved to add more robotic process automation (RPA) capability to its platform by picking up the Indian startup Intellibot for an undisclosed price. ServiceNow intends to build Intellibot's capabilities into its Now Platform to allow customers to automate more business processes.

“ServiceNow is the platform of platforms for the workflow revolution, offering powerful end‑to‑end automation capabilities that allow customers to streamline business decisions and unlock new levels of productivity,” Josh Kahn, senior vice president of Creator Workflow Products at ServiceNow, said in a statement. “With Intellibot, we will extend ServiceNow’s ability to help customers connect systems so they can easily automate workflows and drive productivity.”

This acquisition continues a trend of IT companies offering RPA capabilities, either by building them, as Microsoft has, or buying them, as SAP did when it acquired Signavio in January (see below).

March 19: Aveva completes $5B OSIsoft deal

British industrial software specialist Aveva completed the $5 billion acquisition of its US rival OSIsoft in March. The deal was initially announced last summer and passed regulatory approval in March 2021.

Based in California, OSIsoft is part of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund portfolio and specializes in real-time industrial operational data, which should complement the Cambridge-based firm if smoothly integrated.

“Data has been enabling organizations to more effectively determine the cause of problems by allowing them to visualize what is happening in different locations, departments and systems. This agreement will enable our customers to improve business processes as well as eliminate inefficiencies,” AVEVA CEO Craig Hayman said in a statement last year when the deal was first announced.

March 18: VMware acquires Mesh7

VMware announced plans to acquire the security vendor Mesh7 for an undisclosed amount in March.

Based in Sunnyvale, CA, Mesh7 specializes in API security for distributed cloud environments. The Mesh7 team will join the Tanzu unit at VMware to work on service mesh security.

“Mesh7 technology will enable VMware to bring visibility, discovery, and better security to APIs,” Tom Gillis, senior vice president and general manager for networking and security at VMware, wrote in a blog post. “Security teams and operators need better visibility into application behavior and overall security posture, and the developer experience needs to lead to more secure operations.”

March 9: Dropbox acquires DocSend for $165M

In one of the more obviously complementary deals of the year so far, cloud file storage specialist Dropbox is acquiring DocSend, the secure document sharing company and fellow San Francisco native, for $165 million in cash.

DocSend had raised just $15 million in funding since being founded in 2013, marking an excellent exit for the company and its investors, which includes DCM Ventures and August Capital.

Its unique selling point is the ability to give those who share a documents full visibility into whether a doc is opened, by whom, and when. Dropbox also acquired the e-signature company HelloSign last year, and is looking to integrate all of those capabilities into a secure end-to-end document sharing experience for customers.

“DocSend is a perfect complement to our product roadmap and we’re thrilled to welcome them to our team. By bringing Dropbox, HelloSign, and DocSend together, we’ll be able to offer a full suite of secure, self-serve products to help them manage critical document workflows from start to finish,” Dropbox CEO Drew Houston said in a statement.

March 4: Square acquires streaming platform Tidal for $297M

Jack Dorsey’s fintech company Square announced it's acquiring a majority ownership stake in the music streaming platform Tidal in a surprise $297 million stock-and-cash deal.

Tidal was founded in Norway in 2014, but was put on the map in 2015 when it was bought by American rapper and mogul Jay Z. It competes with Apple Music and Spotify and looks to set itself apart with high-quality streams and by promising to better compensate artists for their streams.

“It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” said Jack Dorsey, the Twitter and Square CEO, said in a statement. “New ideas are found at intersections, and we believe there’s a compelling one between music and the economy. I knew Tidal was something special as soon as I experienced it, and it will continue to be the best home for music, musicians, and culture.”

Tidal will continue to operate as a standalone business and Sean "Jay-Z" Carter will take a seat on the Square board as part of the deal.

March 4: Xero acquires Planday for €183.5M

Small-business focused accounting software maker Xero acquired Planday for a mix of cash and shares that could eventually reach a price of €183.5 million. Based in Denmark, Planday has built a specialist SaaS workforce management and rota scheduling product that counts a wide range of hospitality companies as customers. 

“The acquisition of Planday aligns with our purpose to make life better for people in small businesses and their advisors. Planday’s workforce management platform helps small businesses to respond to the rapidly changing nature of work. Planday also addresses the growing need for flexibility and rising compliance demands within the workplace,” Xero CEO Steve Vamos said in a statement.

March 3: Okta to acquire Auth0 for $6.5B 

Okta announced plans to acquire fellow identity management specialist Auth0 for $6.5 billion in an all-stock deal. That price represents a significant premium, as Auth0 was last valued at $1.92 billion privately after raising $120 million in July 2020; that investment was led by Salesforce Ventures.

At first glance, the acquisition looks highly complementary, as Okta builds SaaS tools to help organizations identify and authenticate access to applications across their business. Auth0 was established in 2013 by a team of ex-Microsoft engineers, intent on building a developer-friendly way to include identity management controls within applications.

Okta confirmed that Auth0 will continue to operate as an independent business unit, but Okta will look for  integration opportunities once the deal has been rubber stamped.

“Combining Auth0’s developer-centric identity solution with the Okta Identity Cloud will drive tremendous value for both current and future customers,” Okta CEO Todd McKinnon said in a statement. “Okta’s and Auth0’s shared vision for the identity market, rooted in customer success, will accelerate our innovation, opening up new ways for our customers to leverage identity to meet their business needs. We are thrilled to join forces with the Auth0 team, as they are ideal allies in building identity for the internet and establishing identity as a primary cloud.”

February 26: Atlassian acquires Chartio

Atlassian announced that it's acquiring the popular data visualization tool Chartio for an undisclosed amount. The Australian software-as-a-service company will look to incorporate Chartio’s collaborative dashboards and reports into its own analytics tools and to give users of tools like Jira and Confluence better insight into their data.

“Atlassian products are home to a treasure trove of data, and our goal is to unleash the power of this data so our customers can go beyond out-of-the-box reports and truly customize analytics to meet the needs of their organization,” Zoe Ghani, head of product experience at platform at Atlassian, wrote in a blog post.

It's bad news for existing Chartio customers however, who have been told they have a year to export their data to another tool.

February 26: Cision acquires Brandwatch for $450M

The UK media landscape shifted in February when the media monitoring and PR database Cision acquired Brandwatch, the online consumer intelligence and social media listening platform, for $450 million in a combined cash and stock deal.

Based in Brighton on the English south coast, Brandwatch specializes in social listening that allows brands to get a better idea of consumer sentiment. Cision hopes to bring this together with its media and PR smarts to give clients a fuller picture of how consumers view their brand.

“The continued digital shift and widespread adoption of social media is rapidly and fundamentally changing how brands and organizations engage with their customers. This is driving the imperative that PR, marketing, social, and customer care teams fully incorporate the unique insights now available into consumer-led strategies,” Cision CEO Abel Clark said in a statement.

February 24: Autodesk acquires Innovyze for $1B

Autodesk announced it would acquire software maker Innovyze for $1 billion in February. The Portland, OR-based Innovyze makes software to model, simulate and analyze water infrastructure.

Autodesk specializes in industrial CAD software for 3D modelling and is popular with architects and engineers. This acquisition is aimed at giving the company a foothold in the water utilities market.

“Autodesk’s design DNA is found in just about every structure you see above ground and below, so it makes strategic sense to bring together our complementary organizations critical to much of the world’s population," Colby Manwaring, CEO of Innovyze, said in a statement. "We look forward to completing the acquisition and getting to work, together."

February 18: CrowdStrike to acquire Humio for $400M

Hot on the heels of the SentinelOne acquisition of Scalyr, CrowdStrike announced it would acquire another logging specialist, Humio, for $400 million. Humio’s unique selling point has always been unlimited logging, allowing customers to collect as much as they want for a better picture of how their systems are working.

“Humio had become the data lake for these enterprises, enabling searches for longer periods of time and from more data sources allowing them to understand their entire environment, prepare for the unknown, proactively prevent issues, recover quickly from incidents, and get to the root cause,” Geeta Schmidt, Humio CEO wrote in a blog post.

CrowdStrike is looking to add this logging capability to its security monitoring tools to help customers react to threats in closer to real time.

“The combination of real-time analytics and smart filtering built into CrowdStrike’s proprietary Threat Graph and Humio’s blazing-fast log management and index-free data ingestion dramatically accelerates our capabilities beyond anything the market has seen to date,” CrowdStrike CEO and co-founder George Kurtz said in a statement.

February 9: SentinelOne to acquire Scalyr for $155M

Cybersecurity analytics vendor SentinelOne made a splashy acquisition in February, picking up the log analytics and observability software specialist Scalyr for $155 million in stock and cash.

The combination of Scalyr’s data analytics with our industry leading AI capabilities ushers in a new era of machine-speed prevention, detection, and response to attacks across the enterprise,” Tomer Weingarten, CEO of SentinelOne, said in a statement.

Still a startup, although a well-funded one with a $3 billion private valuation, SentinelOne expects to integrate Scalyr’s high-speed logging capabilities into its own software for faster threat intelligence, while also continuing to run it as a standalone product with a loyal set of current customers.

January 28: Workday to acquire Peakon for $700M

HR and finance software specialist Workday announced plans to buy employee feedback platform Peakon for $700 million in cash.

Founded in Denmark in 2014, Peakon had raised $68 million in funding to date. It offers organizations a software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool for regularly tracking employee sentiment and other tools to measure the happiness of the workforce, making it a highly complementary acquisition for Workday’s own SaaS HR tools.

“Bringing Peakon into the Workday family will be very compelling to our customers – especially following an extraordinary past year that has magnified the importance of having a constant pulse on employee sentiment in order to keep people engaged and productive,” Aneel Bhusri, cofounder and co-CEO of Workday said in a statement.

January 27: SAP to acquire Signavio

German software firm SAP announced it’s acquiring fellow German firm Signavio, which specializes in cloud-native enterprise business process intelligence and management for an undisclosed fee. Signavio was last valued at $400 million after a $177 million funding round in July 2019.

The announcement was made in conjunction with a new product from SAP called Rise, a bundle of existing SAP software and services aimed at offering customers “business transformation-as-a-service”.

SAP will aim to use Signavio’s expertise around business process intelligence to help more customers optimize these processes as they become more digital.

“I cannot overstress the importance for companies to be able to design, benchmark, improve, and transform business processes across the enterprise to support new capabilities and business models,” Luka Mucic, chief financial officer and member of SAP's Executive Board, said in a statement.

January 20: Citrix to acquire Wrike for $2.25 billion

Virtualization specialist Citrix announced the planned acquisition of collaboration software maker Wrike for $2.25 billion in cash. Citrix already has a digital work platform called Workspace and will look to fold the Wrike team and technology into that product.

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