The biggest enterprise technology M&A deals of 2021

The first three months of 2021 saw three 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
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Already in 2021, we’ve seen enterprise tech acquisitions in hardware, software, and services that have topped $1 billion — although so far there’s nothing to rival the two blockbuster deals announced in 2020, Salesforce.com’s $27.7 billion offer for Slack and AMD’s $35 billion bid for Xilinx, both of which have yet to close.

The pace of acquisitions will increase in 2021, according to two-thirds of company executives, bankers, and other dealmakers surveyed by Morrison & Foerster last December. That’s the most optimistic forecast in almost seven years, according to the law firm.

The enterprise software and services landscape is ripe for such consolidation. It has continued evolving, even as the pandemic has rumbled on, with cloud services in particular changing rapidly. The big outsourcers are adapting their offering to match, often through the acquisition of smaller rivals or niche professional services firms.

For CIOs, mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in the tech space can be disruptive to 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 upcoming shifts in the technology 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 M&As of recent months that could impact IT.

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.

AMD to pay $35 billion for FPGA play Xilinx

With the rise in machine-learning, AMD has seen increased demand for GPUs, a market in which Nvidia, not Intel, is its biggest rival. Some ML workloads, though, run more efficiently or economically on field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), chips that are general-purpose when they leave the factory, but optimized for a specific task once programmed. Intel made its FPGA play in 2015, paying $16.7 billion for Altera. AMD’s October offer to buy Altera’s main competitor, Xilinx, for $35 billion in stock cleared its first antitrust hurdle in January, potentially opening up new markets for it in machine learning and inference. 

Information Builders to be Tibco Software’s biggest buy yet

Tibco Software has closed its acquisition of Information Builders, which it will roll into its range of data integration products. Information Builders makes data and analytics software. Tibco says the deal, reported to be worth almost $1 billion, is its largest acquisition ever.

Salesforce.com to buy Slack for $27.7 billion

Integration with enterprise chat tool Slack is increasingly seen as a key feature for SaaS apps in conferencing, ticketing, calendaring, or project management. Now Salesforce.com has taken that integration one step further, agreeing to pay $27.7 billion to buy Slack so that it can make it the new interface for its Customer 360 platform. Salesforce’s support will open the door of more enterprises for Slack and give it the resources it needs to go head-to-head with Microsoft’s Teams product. Salesforce, though, will likely need to add a few more components to its platform if it’s to be seen as a full-featured alternative to Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice sent Salesforce and Slack a “second request” for more information on the deal in mid-February 2021.

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