The biggest enterprise technology M&A deals of 2021

The first half of 2021 saw multiple billion-dollar-plus acquisitions in hardware, software, and services, and plenty of other merger activity in professional services.

The biggest enterprise technology M&A deals of 2020
Metamorworks / Getty Images

The first half of 2021 saw some of the largest merger and acquisition (M&A) deals of the past five years in the technology, media, and telecommunications sector, according to PwC, although nothing quite rivaled AMD’s $35 billion bid last year for Xilinx, or Salesforce.com’s now-closed $27.7 billion acquisition of Slack.

And M&As are expected to continue apace for the rest of 2021, with the enterprise software and services landscape in particular ripe for consolidation.

For CIOs, tech M&As can disrupt strategic rollouts, spell a need to pivot to a new solution, mean the potential sunsetting of essential technology, provide new opportunities to leverage newly synergized systems, and be a bellwether of further shifts to come in the IT landscape. Keeping on top of activity in this area can help your company make the most of emerging opportunities and steer clear of issues that often arise when vendors combine.

Here CIO.com rounds up of some of the most significant tech M&As of recent months that could impact IT.

Qualtrics buys Clarabridge for $1.1 billion

Qualtrics International, the experience measurement company that was briefly part of SAP, has agreed to buy Clarabridge for $1.1 billion in an all-share deal. Where Qualtrics uses online surveys to ask people how they feel, Clarabridge uses AI to identify sentiment by analyzing social media, chat sessions, and other information sources.

Atos makes hat-trick of acquisitions

Atos, a giant French consulting company you might know from its Olympics sponsorship, made a hat-trick of acquisitions on July 27. Texan cloud data analytics firm Visual BI, product lifecycle management systems integrator Ideal GRP, and high-performance cloud computing specialist Nimbix are all now part of the French services giant, which employs 105,000 in 71 countries.

India’s Sterlite buys UK network integrator Clearcomm

Sterlite Technologies, an Indian broadband services company, is building a portal into Europe with the $20 million acquisition of a small British networking company, Clearcomm. Sterlite is slowly expanding the global reach of its network integration services.

Salesforce.com closes $27.7 billion acquisition of Slack

Salesforce.com closed its acquisition of Slack for $27.7 billion on July 21, 2021. The deal will enable it to make the enterprise chat tool the new interface for its Customer 360 platform. Integration with Slack is increasingly seen as a key feature for SaaS apps in conferencing, ticketing, calendaring, or project management. Salesforce’s support will open the door for Slack at more enterprises and give it the resources it needs to go head-to-head with Microsoft’s Teams product. Salesforce, though, will likely need to add more components to its platform if it’s to be seen as a full-featured alternative to Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace.

Ping Identity buys antifraud service SecuredTouch

Ping Identity, a provider of cloud-based enterprise identification services, has acquired SecuredTouch, a fraud and bot detection service, for an undisclosed sum. Ping intends to integrate SecuredTouch with its platform, although it plans to continue to offer a standalone version too.

Addison Group buys HCM specialist ArcLight Consulting

Professional services firm Addison has added to its talent management capabilities with the acquisition of ArcLight consulting, a specialist in Oracle HCM Cloud implementation.

Cloud-native ERP vendor Unit4 changes hands for $2 billion

ERPx developer Unit4 is under new ownership. Former owner Advent International sold its stake in Unit4 to TA Associations and Partners Group for over $2 billion — but retained ownership of the company’s student information systems business, which it has since relaunched under the Thesis brand.

Infor sells EAM business to Hexagon for $2.75 billion

Infor, the cloud ERP vendor swallowed by Koch Industries in February 2020, has agreed to sell its enterprise asset management (EAM) business to Swedish firm Hexagon for $2.75 billion. Infor’s EAM customers continue to be served through a strategic relationship between the two companies, while Koch keeps a finger in the EAM pie through a stake in Hexagon and the nomination of one of its directors. Hexagon also snapped up a small Finnish spatial mapping provider, Immersal, in July for its augmented reality capabilities.

WSO2 buys Platformer, adding Kubernetes to new integration platform

June 16, 2021, was a big day for WSO2: It launched a new integration platform-as-a-service, Choreo, and announced the acquisition of Platformer, enabling it to offer Kubernetes deployment capabilities within Choreo right out of the gate.

ServiceNow integrators change hands

Gryphon Investors has bought the ServiceNow business unit of integrator Highmetric, along with its name, and folded in two other acquisitions, Fishbone Analytic and Iceberg Networks, making what it claims is the largest pure-play ServiceNow partner in the world, with 300 employees. Meanwhile the company that used to be Highmetric is now called MajorKey Technologies, and its 420 remaining staff will continue to offer other digital strategy consulting services.

Epicor acquires CPQ capabilities for its cloud ERP platform

Privately-owned Epicor has bought up configure-price-quote and visualization software provider KBMax to strengthen its suite of industry-specific ERP software. KBMax allows buyers to configure a product online and instantly see 3D renderings and dimensioned drawings of what they are buying. The company’s own price was not disclosed.

Dell sells Boomi to private investors for $4 billion

Dell Technologies is casting off Boomi, the enterprise integration platform-as-a-service company it acquired in 2010, to refocus on its core infrastructure and PC businesses. TPG Capital and Francisco Partners hope to close the deal, valued at $4 billion, by year-end. TPG has previously invested in Ellucian, a developer of ERP software for academic institutions, and cloud security platform Zscaler, while Francisco Partners has stakes in manufacturing ERP platform Plex Systems and in-memory database developer Redis Labs.

Dell and VMware to split up

Dell Technologies and VMware will soon be changing their relationship status from “its complicated” to “separated.” On April 14, 2021, Dell announced plans to dispose of its 80.6% stake in the virtualization software company in a process that will net it a special dividend of around $9.5 billion. The companies will remain friends, though, continuing to collaborate on sales and solution design for at least five years, and the special dividend will go some way to lightening Dell’s $48 billion debt load.

Ensono buys Amido, gets bought

Chicago-headquartered Ensono snapped up a small British cloud consultancy, Amido, on April 6, 2021. Eight days later, the hybrid IT provider was itself acquired by investment firm KKR from previous owners Charlesbank Capital Partners and M/C Partners. KKR owns BMC Software and last year sold cloud ERP provider Epicor for $4.7 billion.

Australia’s Ampion snapped up by Wipro

On April 1, 2021, Wipro agreed to buy Ampion, an Australian company formed in September 2020 from the merger of IT service provider Revolution IT and cybersecurity firm Shelde, for a reported $117 million. With the deal, The giant Indian IT consulting and business processes company is looking to bulk up its operations in Australia to take advantage of the growing adoption of cloud solutions there.

Wipro offers $1.45 billion for financial consulting firm Capco

Wipro has its eye on far larger opportunities on the other side of the world: In March it agreed to pay $1.45 billion for Capco, a management and technology consultancy serving financial institutions in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Wipro hopes the move will give it access to higher-margin financial services business as profitability diminishes in the increasingly commoditized business process outsourcing services market.

Intellibot to help ServiceNow with process automation

With its acquisition of Indian robotic process automation (RPA) vendor Intellibot, announced in March 2021, ServiceNow will expand both its workflow management platform and its Indian workforce. India is already the site of ServiceNow’s second-largest R&D center, and the deal will enable it to double its headcount in the country over the next three years.

Content services providers merge: Hyland buys Nuxeo

Hyland Software, a Canadian content services provider, agreed in March to buy enterprise content management platform vendor Nuxeo, just a month after the French company opened a New York headquarters. Investment firms Goldman Sachs Growth Equity and Kennet Partners, which have owned Nuxeo since 2016, expect to make a 5x return on their investment.

Citrix closes $2.25 billion acquisition of collaboration platform Wrike

Citrix is already well-placed to profit from the move to hybrid working. Its Workspace desktop and application virtualization tool enables employees to access enterprise and SaaS applications from anywhere, through a unified interface. Wrike, the online project and work management service it has just acquired for $2.25 billion, enables teams to communicate — but in a more structured environment than Slack or Teams, as it is focused on tracking the progress of projects and the tasks they comprise. Wrike also offers low-code workflow automation capabilities with which Citrix can bolster the existing automation functions in Workspace.

Precisely is under new ownership

Precisely has a new owner, which is also its old owner. The data integrity specialist, formed in December 2019 from the merger of Syncsort and Pitney Bowes Software & Data, offers tools to integrate data from mainframes and legacy databases with cloud platforms including Databricks, Microsoft Azure Synapse, and Snowflake. Investment firm Clearlake Capital owned Syncsort until 2017, and now it and TA Associates have bought a majority stake in Precisely.

Qualcomm buys server chip designer to make laptops

After rapidly equipping millions of office staff to work at home, it’ll be a while before many enterprises buy another Windows laptop — but their next wave of refreshes might have Qualcomm processors inside. In March, Qualcomm paid $1.4 billion to buy Nuvia, a company that had been designing processors for servers. Qualcomm’s put a stop to that, though, and put Nuvia to work conceiving chips for high-end laptops. They could be coming out of the factories and on their way to laptop designers by late 2022.

Diligent to buy Galvanize and Steele Compliance Solutions

Diligent is expanding the capabilities of its enterprise governance platform. It is acquiring ethics and compliance specialist Steele Compliance Solutions, and governance, risk, and compliance SaaS vendor Galvanize in separate deals that it expected to close in March 2021.

Managed data services provider Calligo’s acquisition spree takes it to the US

Calligo, an outsourcer of managed IT and data privacy services, has been on an acquisition spree of late: Last year it bought Network Integrity Services in the UK, and Cinnte Technologies, Itomic Voice & Data, and DC Networks in Ireland. Now it’s reinforcing its position in the US, buying data analytics specialist Decisive Data.

Skynamo’s field sales app picks up digital catalogue maker mSeller

Skynamo, a South African software developer active in the US and UK, has beefed up the mobile app linked to its field sales management platform with the digital catalog developed by its recent acquisition, UK software house mSeller. It offers apps tailored for several industries, and integrates with ERP systems, including SAP and Acumatica.

Apptio buys Targetprocess

Following its October acquisition of SaasLicense to help optimize spending on cloud applications, Apptio is buying Targetprocess, this time to help CIOs figure out what internal software development projects they should invest in next.

With SignRequest, Box takes step towards business process management

Box already stores signed contracts and other documents for many enterprises; now it’s hoping to manage the signing process too, with the acquisition of SignRequest for $55 million. The company expects to use SignRequest’s capabilities to offer a new service, Box Sign, in the third quarter.

Red Hat buys StackRox to secure Kubernetes

With its OpenShift platform, Red Hat is increasingly helping its customers run workloads in containers using Kubernetes. Securing those workloads, and the many layers of code they are wrapped in, is a challenge — one that Red Hat hopes to meet with its acquisition of StackRox, which closed in late February. StackRox has a software platform that can secure Kubernetes workloads running not just on OpenShift but also on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Red Hat plans to open-source the StackRox code, and to use it to secure container build and continuous integration/continuous deployment processes.

Oracle’s bid for stake in teen video app TikTok on hold

As of Feb. 11, a bid by Oracle and Walmart for 20% of TikTok Global, a sort of mobile YouTube used by millions of teenagers, was still on hold. The Trump administration didn’t want TikTok’s Chinese parent ByteDance controlling an app on millions of U.S. smartphones, prompting ByteDance to create a US subsidiary and search for a buyer. President Biden, though, is in no rush to approve the deal while his administration reviews its policy on China. It’s hard to see what Walmart wants with the stake but Oracle has already won something from the controversy: TikTok will pay to host its US operations in Oracle’s data centers. Like the similar hosting deal with lockdown conferencing sensation Zoom Video Communications, this adds weight to Oracle’s pitch to be seen as a serious provider of cloud infrastructure.

IBM buys Salesforce specialist 7Summits

IBM is adding some Salesforce integration expertise to its professional services division, IBM Global Business Services, with the acquisition of 7Summits, a small consulting company based in Milwaukee. It’s a small step, but a sign that IBM is keeping a close eye on where growth in demand for its services will come from in future.

Cognizant to buy Servian, Linium, and Magenic Technologies

Cognizant went on a tear in January, agreeing to buy three companies. First came Servian, a cloud data and analytics consulting firm in Australia, through which Cognizant plans to expand its capabilities in the region. Next was Linium, a small cloud transformation consultancy focused on ServiceNow. Its 150 staff are based in New York state, Canada, India, and the UK. Third on Cognizant’s list was Magenic Technologies, a custom cloud software developer with 475 staff in the US and another 350 in the Philippines that Cognizant hopes will beef up its cloud modernization capabilities. It will fold Magenic into Softvision, another software developer it acquired in 2018.

Deloitte Consulting buys HashedIn Technologies

Deloitte Consulting, too, is expanding its cloud software engineering capabilities, in January closing a deal to purchase HashedIn Technologies, an Indian software developer specializing in SaaS projects. HashedIn will add 750 staff worldwide to Deloitte’s 50,000-strong workforce.

Navisite buys SAP specialist Velocity Technology Solutions

Managed cloud service provider Navisite has acquired another SAP partner, strengthening its support for ERP in the public cloud. The latest acquisition, Velocity Technology Solutions, offers managed services to help companies move to SAP’s S/4HANA, and joins SAP consulting firm Dickinson + Associates under the Navisite umbrella.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

The CIO Fall digital issue is here! Learn how CIO100 award-winning organizations are reimagining products and services for a new era of customer and employee engagement.