Amid the on-going coronavirus pandemic, 2021 followed in the footsteps of its predecessor, continuing to be an unpredictable, and at times incredibly difficult, year. But one thing that stayed constant was the steady flow of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) across the tech sector.
According to research by Global Data, global tech M&A deals had already neared $3 trillion by Q3, largely supported by the tech, media, and telecom sectors. Although nothing rivalled Xilinx’s $35 billion acquisition of Advanced Micro Devices in 2020, last year did see Intuit buy Mailchimp for $12 billion and Square splash out a princely sum — $29 billion — for Afterpay.
As for whether 2022 will maintain last year’s pace, early signs seem to suggest there will be no slowing of big deals across the industry, with cybersecurity and collaboration software already proving to be hot areas.
Here are the biggest enterprise technology acquisitions of 2022 so far, in reverse chronological order:
Jan. 18: Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7B
Microsoft announced it’s acquiring Activision Blizzard for an eye-watering $68.7 billion — $26 billion more than the company paid for LinkedIn in 2016. The deal is Microsoft’s biggest-ever and set to be the largest all-cash acquisition on record. It will help boost the company’s standings in the videogaming market, bringing titles such as “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Overwatch” onto its Xbox platform.
In a blog post on Xbox Wire, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said: “As a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. We all know that gaming is the most vibrant and dynamic form of entertainment worldwide and we’ve experienced the power of social connection and friendship that gaming makes possible.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in a seperate statement, highlighted gaming as one of the most dynamic and exciting entertainment categories across all platforms, and said it “will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”
The acquisition raised eyebrows beyond the sheer size of the sale price, however. In July 2021, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed suit against Activision Blizzard, citing “numerous complaints about unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation” at the company.
Activision Blizzard has been accused of sexual harassment and discrimination, under-paying female workers, union-busting, and of having a “frat boy” work culture and “rock-star” mentality. In November, Activision Blizzard employees staged a walkout and have put forward a petition with more than 700 signatures demanding CEO Bobby Kotick be removed.
While Microsoft did not address the issues when announcing the acquisition, speculation quickly emerged about whether Kotick will continue after the deal is finalized. The Wall Street Journal reported “the companies have agreed that he will part when the deal closes.”
Jan. 5: Google buys Siemplify for $500M
Google has announced its acquisition of cybersecurity company Siemplify for $500 million. The Israel-based cybersecurity startup specializes in end-to-end security services for enterprises, typically referred to as security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) services.
Google and Siemplify have both confirmed the acquisition, noting that Siemplify will be integrated into Google Cloud Platform, and specifically its Chronicle operation. In a blog post, Sunil Potti VP/GM, Google Cloud Security stated that both companies “share the belief that security analysts need to be able to solve more incidents with greater complexity while requiring less effort and less specialized knowledge.”
“With Siemplify, we will change the rules on how organizations hunt, detect, and respond to threats,” he said.
Forrester Analyst, Allie Mellen, noted that “A SOAR tool has been the missing piece for Google’s Chronicle offering since practically its inception — other security analytics platforms began incorporating SOAR as early as 2017.
“This acquisition is an important step in providing a unified offering to practitioners and in being able to compete more directly in the security analytics platform space,” Mellen said.
Jan 4: Zoom acquires Liminal assets
Zoom has announced it had acquired assets from Liminal as part of its ongoing ambition to enhance the future of events.
Liminal, a start-up company that offers event production solutions built largely on Zoom’s SDK, will now form part of Zoom’s team that intends to develop best-in-class programs and solutions that can be accessed online from anywhere in the world. By adding these capabilities and more to its events management offerings, Zoom seeks to continue to be the leading comprehensive, one-stop, hybrid events management platform in the market.
As part of the asset acquisition, two of Liminal’s co-founders, Andy Carluccio and Jonathan Kokotajlo, will join Zoom, and have the shared ambition to provide more dynamic and customisable event offerings solutions to customers.
In a blog post detailing the purchase, Zoom’s Chief Marketing Officer, Janine Pelosi, said: “Liminal’s software can connect multiple HD video feeds from Zoom to production-grade hardware and applications. By adding these capabilities and more to our events management and production offerings, we believe we will continue to be the leading comprehensive, one-stop, hybrid events management platform in the market.”