Biggest technology acquisitions of 2020

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

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"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.

5 May: Sinch acquires SAP Digital Interconnect for £198 million

The Swedish cloud communications company Sinch picked up SAP's mobile unit SAP Digital Interconnect (SDI) for £198 million in cash in May.

Sinch is similar to the US company Twilio in that it offers a suite of embedded communications options for messaging, voice and video via a set of APIs. SAP's Digital Interconnect unit, which it has been shopping around for a number of weeks, is therefore a clear fit for the firm, as it provides a similar suite of products to an existing customer base of 1,500 businesses.

"With SAP Digital Interconnect now becoming a part of Sinch, we build on our scale, focus and capabilities to truly redefine how businesses engage with their customers, throughout the world,” Sinch CEO, Oscar Werner said in a statement. “The transaction strengthens our direct connectivity globally. Plus, it enables us to expand and accelerate a range of business-critical services to mobile operators, including products for person-to-person messaging, reporting and analytics."

Sinch has been on something of an acquisition tear this year, picking up Brazilian business messaging service Wavy for £98 million and conversational AI specialist ChatLayer for £6 million in March.

4 May: Intel acquires Israeli Startup Moovit for $1 billion

Intel confirmed that it is acquiring Israeli mobility data specialist and journey planner app Moovit on 4 May for $900 million. The chipmaker will look to bring Moovit into its Mobileye mobility unit, which the chipmaker also acquired, for $15.3 billion in 2017. Mobileye provides driver assistance software to 60 million vehicles today and is also working on autonomous vehicle technology, where it will seemingly be able to leverage Moovit's wealth of mobility data.

Founded in Tel Aviv in 2012, Moovit provides real-time traffic data to third parties like ride-hailing services and transit authorities through its popular mobile app. Intel was a strategic investor in the startup prior to this acquisition.

“Mobileye’s ACAS [advanced driver-assistance systems] technology is already improving the safety of millions of cars on the road, and Moovit accelerates their ability to truly revolutionise transportation – reducing congestion and saving lives – as a full-stack mobility provider," Intel CEO, Bob Swan, said in a statement.

“Mobility is a basic human right, and as cities become more crowded, urban mobility becomes more difficult. Combining the daily mobility habits and needs of millions of Moovit users with the state-of-the-art, safe, affordable and eco-friendly transportation enabled by self-driving vehicles, we will be able to make cities better places to live in. We share this vision and look forward to making it a reality as part of Mobileye," said Nir Erez, Moovit cofounder and CEO

4 May: NVIDIA buys Mellanox and Cumulus in multi-billion spree

Chipmaker NVIDIA made two acquisitions in close succession this spring: Cumulus Networks for an undisclosed amount on 4 May and cloud-network switch and adapter vendor Mellanox, which was announced on 27 April in a $6.9 billion deal.

Cumulus specialises in a Linux-based network operating system for large data-centre, cloud and enterprise environments. Mellanox specialises in networking hardware and software for large cloud and enterprise data centres, including high-speed interconnectivity for high-performance computing. All three companies have partnered on solutions in the past.

“With Mellanox, the new NVIDIA has end-to-end technologies from AI computing to networking, full-stack offerings from processors to software, and significant scale to advance next-generation data centres,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA in a statement.

Both moves push NVIDIA further into the data-centre hardware and software space. As Network World contributor Zeus Kerravala argues, this "could signal the era of open networking."

16 April: Verizon to acquire BlueJeans

The business arm of US telco Verizon announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to buy the enterprise video conferencing company BlueJeans on 16 April, for less than $500 million according to the Wall Street Journal.

The acquisition of the Zoom and Cisco WebEx rival platform was announced at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which forced unprecedented numbers of people to turn to video calling platforms like BlueJeans.

Verizon announced that it is looking to bring BlueJeans into its communications-as-a-business portfolio and is already eyeing integrations with its 5G product roadmap, especially to provide solutions in the telemedicine, distance learning and field service spaces.

“As the way we work continues to change, it is absolutely critical for businesses and public sector customers to have access to a comprehensive suite of offerings that are enterprise ready, secure, frictionless and that integrate with existing tools,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business in a statement. “Collaboration and communications have become top of the agenda for businesses of all sizes and in all sectors in recent months. We are excited to combine the power of BlueJeans’ video platform with Verizon Business’ connectivity networks, platforms and solutions to meet our customers’ needs.”

8 April: Cisco acquires Fluidmesh

Cisco announced in April that it will acquire the wireless backhaul specialist Fluidmesh Networks for an undisclosed amount.

The MIT and Polytechnic University of Milan spin-out company specialises in technology which enables reliable connections between sensors on fast-moving objects, such as trains, remote vehicles, and robotic manufacturing machinery. Cisco will hope the acquisition can boost its industrial internet of things (IIoT) portfolio. The two companies know each other well, having already partnered on Cisco’s Connected Rail Solutions product.

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