Biggest technology acquisitions of 2020

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

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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.

"With organisations digitising and interconnecting their systems, the speed of business is constantly being redefined. Fluidmesh’s leading technology will allow us to address these new and emerging use cases with a solution set that is quick to deploy and provides low operational costs and maintenance. We are excited to bring this unique technology to our customers," Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager for Cisco Cloud, Compute and IoT wrote in a blog post.

8 April: Accenture buys Revolutionary Security

Accenture made its third cybersecurity buy of the year with the purchase of Philadelphia-based consultancy Revolutionary Security in April. Founded in 2016, Revolutionary Security focuses on cybersecurity consultancy services, from penetration testing to insider threat mitigation and threat hunting, and counts around 90 employees.

“The acquisition of Revolutionary Security is another demonstration of our continued commitment to invest in areas to keep our clients safe from cyber threats,” said Kelly Bissell, who leads Accenture Security globally, in a statement. “Revolutionary Security’s service offerings are a perfect complement to Accenture’s portfolio, and the acquisition furthers our mission of helping clients better protect and defend their organisations across their entire ecosystem.”

This marks the third cybersecurity acquisition by Accenture this year already, having picked up Symantec’s security services division in January and UK-based Context Information Security in March.

7 April: SoFi acquires Galileo for $1.2 billion

The fintech bubble shows no sign of bursting in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as SoftBank-backed SoFi announced in April that it plans to buy Utah-based payments firm Galileo for $1.2 billion in stock and cash.

Galileo powers payments for various other fintech firms, such as stock trading app Robinhood and London-based money transfer service TransferWise.

This marks the San Francisco-based SoFi's ambitions to build a catch-all fintech company, having started in 2011 with online-only student loans and since moving into everything from cryptocurrency to mortgages, personal loans and stock trading since.

“Together with Galileo, we will partner to build on our companies’ strengths to drive even greater financial technology innovation, making those products and services available to both current and future partners. While we march forward on our mission to help people achieve financial independence through our own direct efforts, with Galileo, we can enable a broader ecosystem of companies to join us in helping the world achieve financial independence," said Anthony Noto, CEO of SoFi, in a statement.

7 April: CNN acquires Canopy

CNN, which is owned by media giant Turner, is in the process of acquiring digital news service Canopy for an undisclosed amount.

Based in Brooklyn and Boston, Canopy specialises in content personalisation, using human curation and machine learning algorithms. The app itself will be wound down as a result of the acquisition to better focus on delivering a similar product for its new parent company, according to TechCrunch.

26 March: Microsoft to acquire Affirmed Networks

Microsoft announced that it is acquiring the Boston-based Affirmed Networks for an undisclosed amount in March. The 2010-founded company specialises in virtualisation and cloud-based mobile network technology, which makes it an attractive acquisition target for any company investing in next-generation 5G connectivity.

"This acquisition will allow us to evolve our work with the telecommunications industry, building on our secure and trusted cloud platform for operators. With Affirmed Networks, we will be able to offer new and innovative solutions tailored to the unique needs of operators, including managing their network workloads in the cloud," Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president of Azure Networking wrote in a blog post.

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