Biggest technology acquisitions 2020

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

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Last year marked a slight decrease in global technology M&A activity from the blockbuster year that was 2018 – when SAP bought Qualtrics for $8 billion, IBM acquired Red Hat for a staggering $33 billion and Broadcom picked up CA Technologies for $18.9 billion in cash.

As of the end of Q3 2019, technology M&A deals worth $245 billion had been announced globally, marking a decrease of 25% year-on-year according to GlobalData.

Which mergers and acquisitions does 2020 have in store? If January alone is anything to go by, there will be no slowing of major deals across the industry, with security already proving to be a hot area.

Here are the biggest technology acqusitions of 2020 so far, in reverse chronological order:

13 July: HPE picks up Silver Peak for $925 million

Hewlett Packard Enterprise made a big commitment to the SD-WAN (software-defined networking in a wide area network) market in July when it announced its intention to buy Silver Peak for $925 million.

Founded in 2004, Silver Peak specialises in WAN technology and will join HPE's networking brand Aruba.

"Our Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform is highly complementary to HPE's industry-defining SD-Branch offerings and it will become the centerpiece of Aruba's WAN edge strategy," Silver Peak CEO David Hughes wrote in a blog post. "Upon closing the deal, we will become part of HPE's Aruba division, bringing together the industry's most comprehensive end-to-end secure networking portfolio from the data centre to the campus, to branch and remote worker locations."

8 July: SUSE acquires Rancher

SUSE, the enterprise Linux specialist, is doubling down on Kubernetes with the July acquisition of Rancher, for an undisclosed amount. The Cupertino-based company has built a popular open source Kubernetes container management platform, with customers like Sky, Sony Playstation and Deutsche Bahn.

“Rancher and SUSE will help organizations control their cloud native futures,” said Sheng Liang, Rancher CEO, as part of a statement. “Our leading Kubernetes platform with SUSE’s broad open source software solutions creates a powerful combination, enabling IT and operations leaders worldwide to best meet the needs of their customers wherever they are on their digital transformation journey from the data center to cloud to edge.”   

The deal is expected to close before the end of October 2020, subject to regulatory approval.

6 July: Uber to acquire rival Postmates for $2.65 billion

Ride hailing giant Uber agreed to acquire food delivery business Postmates in July, in a $2.65 billion all-stock takeover. The deal will bring together two of the biggest food delivery companies in the US and will bolster Uber's own Eats brand.

"We’re thrilled to welcome Postmates to the Uber family as we innovate together to deliver better experiences for consumers, delivery people, and merchants across the country,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in an announcement.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and could yet face scrutiny over competition.

30 June: Google acquires glasses maker North

After its own failed effort at consumer smart glasses with Google Glass, the search giant announced the acquisition of North in June, for an undisclosed amount.

The Canadian company makes the stylish Focals smart glasses and will join the Google office in its native Kitchener-Waterloo.

"Google has always strived to be helpful to people in their daily lives. We’re building towards a future where helpfulness is all around you, where all your devices just work together and technology fades into the background. We call this ambient computing," Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President for devices and services at Google wrote in a blog post.

26 June: Amazon to acquire autonomous driving startup Zoox for £1.2 billion

Amazon announced that it is acquiring the self-driving vehicle company Zoox for a reported $1.2 billion in June.

Amazon has shown a keen interest in the self-driving car space for some time now, taking stakes in the electric truckmaker Rivian and self-driving start-up Aurora.

Founded in California 2014, Zoox was planning on launching a pilot programme for its ride-sharing service this year, but has had to put those plans on ice due to the coronavirus pandemic. It had raised nearly $1 billion in funding to date, making it one of very few autonomous driving ‘unicorns’.

Zoox CEO, Aicha Evans and his cofounder Jesse Levinson will continue to lead Zoox as “a standalone business” within Amazon.

"Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience," said Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO for worldwide consumer, in a blog post. "Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers, and we're excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead."

23 June: Mastercard to acquire open banking firm Fincity

Mastercard announced in June that it is acquiring Finicity for $825 million. 

The Utah-based fintech specialises in open banking – a new regulation-driven mode of banking which is further ahead in Europe than the US – where consumers are given greater control of their finances by leveraging secure APIs to connect their bank account to other fintech services and make quick payments, without using traditional middle men, like Mastercard.

What Finicity provides is a platform which enables financial institutions to connect up these new data streams to a wide range of financial institutions and credit decisioning bodies, without having to do the 'plumbing' themselves. Notable clients include FICO and Experian.

Analysts have noted a similarity in the deal to Visa's recent purchase of Plaid for $5.3 billion (see below).

"Mastercard invested early in open banking and launched a set of solutions in Europe last year. Today, these leading services are live in a dozen countries. With the addition of Finicity, Mastercard expects to not only advance its open banking strategy but enhance how it supports today’s digital economy. This strategic approach demonstrates how Mastercard is an excellent fit," wrote Finicity cofounders Steve Smith and Nick Thomas in a blog post.

22 June: Microsoft acquires CyberX

Microsoft announced the acquisition of Israeli IoT security specialists CyberX in June for an undisclosed amount. Microsoft will incorporate CyberX technology and talent into its cloud Azure unit, where it already offers the Azure IoT stack, Azure Security Center for IoT and Azure Sentinel. The CyberX team will now report in to fellow Israeli Yuval Eldar, Microsoft GM of IoT Security.

Founded in 2013, CyberX allows customers to manage and improve the security of their IoT assets, be that a set of autonomous robots on a factory floor, to a fleet of consumer-facing smart doorbells. Existing clients include major oil and has utilities and US government agencies, including the US Department of Energy.

28 May: Cisco acquires ThousandEyes

Cisco announced its intention to acquire network intelligence specialist ThousandEyes in May for an undisclosed amount.

San Francisco-based ThousandEyes sells cloud-based analytics tools for the internet, local and wide-area networks. The company also tracks ISP, cloud and collaboration application performance, data which we use to track global internet outages over at Network World.

“ThousandEyes’ technology warns us when a user’s experience is less than ideal and can pinpoint where those failures were caused. With thousands of agents deployed throughout the Internet, ThousandEyes’ platform has an unprecedented understanding of the Internet and grows more intelligent with every deployment,” Todd Nightingale, senior vice president and general manager at Cisco wrote in a blog post.

Cisco plans to embed ThousandEyes technology into its existing products, with AppDynamics application performance, SD-WAN, WebEx and Meraki standout candidates for a boost. The team will join a newly formed Networking Services unit at Cisco, reporting to Nightingale. ThousandEyes CEO Mohit Lad will become the GM of ThousandEyes.

19 May: Microsoft acquires UK-based Softomotive

Microsoft announced the acquisition of UK-based provider of robotic process automation software Softomotive in May for an undisclosed amount. Softomotive talent and technology – specifically its desktop automation tool WinAutomation – will be folded into Microsoft's Power Automate platform.

Founded in 2005 by Greek entrepreneurs Argyris Kaninis and Marios Stavropoulos, Softomotive has thousands of customers across the healthcare, banking, insurance, and telecom industries.

"Together with Power Automate, WinAutomation will provide customers additional options for RPA desktop authoring so anyone can build a bot and automate Windows-based tasks. The combined offering will also enable RPA connectivity to many new apps and services including SAP and traditional green-screen terminal applications," Charles Lamanna, CVP for the Citizen Application Platform stated in a blog post.

15 May: Facebook buys Giphy for $400 million

Facebook announced on 15 May that it was to buy Giphy, the popular searchable library for movable images, or gifs. The product and team will be rolled into the Instagram division of the social media giant. The price for the acquisition was pegged at $400 million by Axios, which broke the story.

"Giphy makes everyday conversations more entertaining, and so we plan to further integrate their GIF library into Instagram and our other apps so that people can find just the right way to express themselves," Vishal Shah, VP of product wrote in a blog post, in which he also referred to Giphy as a "leader in visual expression and creation".

Shah also revealed that 50% of Giphy traffic already comes via the Facebook family of apps, half of that from Instagram itself.

14 May: Microsoft to acquire Metaswitch Networks

Microsoft announced the acquisition of the UK-based firm Metaswitch Networks in May for an undisclosed amount.

This marks another move into the nascent 5G market by Microsoft, as Metaswitch specialises in virtualised, cloud-based communications software. The buy-out follows the acquisition of another 5G-focused company – Affirmed Networks – by Microsoft earlier this year.

"Metaswitch’s complementary portfolio of ultra-high-performance, cloud-native communications software will expand our range of offerings available for the telecommunications industry," Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president for Azure Networking wrote in a blog post.

"Microsoft intends to leverage the talent and technology of these two organisations, extending the Azure platform to both deploy and grow these capabilities at scale in a way that is secure, efficient and creates a sustainable ecosystem."

13 May: VMware announces intent to acquire Octarine

The virtualisation specialist VMware announced its intention to acquire Octarine for an undisclosed amount in May.

The California-based startup specialises in securing applications running on the popular open source Kubernetes container orchestration platform. VMware will immediately fold the Ocatrine team and technology into its cybersecurity unit Carbon Black, which it acquired last year for $2.1 billion.

“Acquiring Octarine enables us to advance intrinsic security for containers (and Kubernetes environments), by embedding the Octarine technology into the VMware  Carbon Black Cloud, and via deep hooks and integrations with the VMware Tanzu platform,” Patrick Morley, general manager and senior vice president at VMware’s Security Business Unit wrote in a blog post.

12 May: Atlassian acquires help desk firm Halp

Atlassian announced it is acquiring helpdesk software-maker Halp in May.

Halp allows technology teams to assign, prioritise and answer requests directly from Slack. It already integrates with Atlassian’s Jira Service Desk and Confluence, allowing organisations to keep records of tickets via their support tool of choice. Atlassian says it will maintain Halp as a standalone brand and team post-acquisition.

7 May: Zoom acquires end-to-end encryption specialist Keybase

Zoom announced the acquisition of secure messaging specialist Keybase in May for an undisclosed amount.

The popular videoconferencing application has come under intense scrutiny during the global lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including various slights against its security credentials. CEO Eric Yuan quickly announced a 90-day plan to address these customer concerns, and this acquisition is being positioned as part of that response.

"We are proud to announce the acquisition of Keybase, another milestone in Zoom’s 90-day plan to further strengthen the security of our video communications platform," Yuan wrote in a blog post.

Keybase specialises in end-to-end encryption, a cryptography method which ensures that communications are encrypted at each end of the line, meaning the content can't be seen or heard by anyone outside of the parties involved, including the vendor itself. The service was designed in New York by OK Cupid cofounders Chris Coyne and Max Krohn, who will subsequently lead the Zoom security engineering team, reporting directly to Yuan.

Zoom says it will offer an end-to-end encrypted meeting mode to all paid accounts in the near future. "We plan to publish a detailed draft cryptographic design on Friday, May 22. We will then host discussion sections with civil society, cryptographic experts, and customers to share more details and solicit feedback," Yuan wrote.

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