Noteworthy technology acquisitions 2021

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:

Dec. 7: Twitter acquires Quill

Twitter has made its first acquisition since ex-CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down, buying Quill, a business-focused messaging service meant to compete against the likes of Slack.

Founded by Ludwig Pettersson, the former creative director of Stripe, in February 2021, Quill describes  itself as “messaging for people that focus” and managed to raise around $16 million from backers. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Quill shut down Dec. 11, with its team joining Twitter’s Experience organization to work on messaging tools — specifically Twitter direct messages.

In a Twitter thread announcing the deal, Nick Caldwell, general manager for core tech at Twitter, described Quill as a “fresher, more deliberate way to communicate. We’re bringing their experience and creativity to Twitter as we work to make messaging tools like DMs a more useful & expressive way people can have conversations on the service.”

Dec. 7: Equinix expands into Africa with $320M MainOne buy

Equinix announced it’s acquiring MainOne, a West African data center and connectivity solutions provider with a presence in Nigeria, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast. The acquisition is expected to close in Q1 of 2022 and cost $320 million.

The deal comes on the heels of Equinix’s $161 million acquisition of GPX India and $780 million purchase of 13 Canadian data centers, signalling the company’s continuing global growth ambitions.

In a statement, Charles Meyers, Equinix president and CEO, said: “The acquisition of MainOne will represent a critical point of entry for Platform Equinix into the expansive and rapidly growing African market. MainOne’s leading interconnection position and experienced management team represent critical assets in our aspirations to be the leading neutral provider of digital infrastructure in Africa.”

Nov. 22: Ericsson to acquire cloud communications company Vonage

Ericsson has announced its intent to acquire cloud communications company Vonage in a $6.2 billion deal.

With Vonage, Ericsson will be able to modernize its approach to communications, as the deal will give it access to a cloud contact center, communications APIs, and a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) solution. The company is also looking to build on its 4G and 5G networking technology by taking advantage of the key pieces of the Vonage family.

Börje Ekholm, Ericsson president and CEO, said that this is part of a strategy by the company to begin capturing more enterprise business.

“This provides the foundation to build an enterprise business,” he said in a statement. “The acquisition of Vonage is the next step in delivering on that strategic priority. Vonage gives us a platform to help our customers monetize the investments in the network, benefiting developers and businesses.”

Nov. 19: Mmhmm has bought Macro

The videoconferencing software startup, founded by Evernote creator Phil Libin, announced it has bought Macro, a company that created filters, reactions, and tools aimed at making virtual meetings more engaging.

The talks between Macro and Mmhmm started in late September, with the deal closing just weeks later. While the terms of the transaction were undisclosed, Mmhmm has recently raised $100 million in funding.

In a blog post announcing the deal, Mmhmm wrote: “What we love about Macro CEO Ankith Harathi and Macro CTO John Keck is how they know the most important part of any video communication is you — how they’re working to smash barriers to self-expression on video platforms that try to box us in. Most of all, we love that they want us to have fun on video.”

Nov. 18: Workday buys external workforce management startup VNDLY

Finance and people management software company Workday announced plans to acquire VNDLY, a startup that helps companies manage external workforce personnel. The deal is valued at $510 million.

VNDLY was founded in 2017 and raised almost $58 million in funding. The company’s largest and most recent round was a $35 million Series B at the end of 2019 led by Insight Partners.

Pete Schlampp, chief strategy officer at Workday, said as the face of work changes, companies need a way to manage contractors. VNDLY gives them that, he said.

“VNDLY is at the forefront of the vendor management industry with an innovative and intuitive approach,” Schlampp said in a statement. “The powerful combination of our technologies and talent will help customers better manage their evolving workforce dynamics, helping them keep pace with today’s changing world of work.”

Nov. 15: UK startup Immersive Labs acquires US-based startup Snap Labs

Cybersecurity startup Immersive Labs is acquiring US-based cyber startup Snap Labs for an undisclosed “multimillion-dollar figure.” The deal will be a mix of stock and cash.

Immersive Labs, which teaches cybersecurity skills to corporate employees by using up-to-date cyber threat intelligence in a “gamified” way, recently closed a $75 million Series C funding round. Snap Labs is thought to have not previously raised venture funding prior to this deal.

In a statement, James Hadley, CEO of Immersive Labs, said: “The acquisition of Snap Labs will allow customers to build better cyber workforces with richly detailed realistic experiences pinpointed to the risk they face.”

Snap Labs co-founder, Chris Myers, echoed Hadley’s comments, saying: “The two platforms are a natural fit, and by combining them we hope to help our customers build even more resilience against cyber threats.”

Oct. 28: Zendesk is set to acquire Momentive

Zendesk and Momentive reached a deal under which Zendesk will acquire Momentive, including its iconic SurveyMonkey platform. The terms of the transaction give Momentive stockholders 0.225 shares of Zendesk for each share of Momentive; that ratio represents an implied value of $28 per outstanding share of Momentive stock.

According to Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane, the purchase will enable Zendesk customers to “build more meaningful relationships” by allowing the two companies to cross-sell and co-develop existing and future products.

“The SurveyMonkey brand is iconic, and we’ve admired their business from afar since the inception of Zendesk. They truly democratized an industry — almost everyone in the world has responded to one of their surveys at some point,” Svane said in a statement. “We’re very excited to have them join the Zendesk mission along with Momentive’s market research and insights products and together create a powerful new customer intelligence company.”

Oct. 20: Stripe buys payment automation platform Recko

Jack Dorsey’s Stripe is acquiring the Bangalore-based accountancy platform Recko. Its automated payments reconciliation software aims to replace the manual process of correctly matching transactions and considers currency conversions, refunds and chargebacks.

Recko’s solution will be added to Stripe’s existing suite of financial tools, and the fintech firm’s team will join Stripe’s remote engineering hub.

“Payments reconciliation shouldn’t be a mild headache that balloons into a migraine as a company grows — it should be an easy, highly automated process,” Will Gaybrick, Stripe’s chief product officer, said in a statement. “Stripe helps millions of businesses around the world streamline their revenue management — from subscriptions and invoicing to revenue recognition and bookkeeping. With Recko, we’ll automate their payments reconciliation, a critical input into their overall financial health.”

Oct. 19: Instacart acquires smart checkout startup Caper AI

Instacart has acquired Caper AI for $350 million; the startup builds smart cart and cashier-less checkout technology using computer vision and other techniques to detect items and ring them up for shoppers.

The announcement came less than two weeks after Instacart unveiled its acquisition of FoodStorm, a SaaS order management system (OMS) that powers end-to-end order-ahead and catering for grocery retailers. The acquisitions are part of Instacart’s expanding “B2B2C” retail technology strategy, with the company looking to build a stack of products and services for stores that they, in turn, can use to provide new services to customers.

“The powerful technology we’ve created is intuitive for customers, easy to deploy for retailers of all sizes, and creates a physical retail ecosystem that never existed before,” Caper co-founder Lindon Gao said in a statement. “We share Instacart’s vision of enabling grocery retailers with new innovations that create step changes for their businesses, and we’re proud to now be joining forces with Instacart to develop even more solutions that help bring the online and offline together for retailers.”

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.

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