Among the trends that drove the biggest M&A deals: software as a service, mobility, big data, and social networking.
5. Salesforce.com and Radian6: It wasn't among the biggest of tech acquisitions in 2011, a cash and stock deal valued at about $320 million, but it's strategically important to one of the industry's hottest vendors, as Salesforce.com pushes its "social enterprise" agenda, including its Twitter-like Chatter service. Radian6, a maker of social media monitoring and analytics services, has since become the basis of Salesforce's Social Marketing Cloud, a collection of services it rolled out in November to help companies manage their brands and engage with customers across the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
4. AT&T and T-Mobile: The biggest tech deal of 2011 ($39 billion) is actually the biggest non-starter, as competitors, regulators, trustbusters, lobbyists, and politicians dig in to stop this merger of the No. 2 and No. 4 U.S. mobile carriers. AT&T said in November that it's withdrawing its merger application from the FCC to focus instead on winning the antitrust lawsuit the Department of Justice had filed against it in August. Meantime, AT&T is reportedly trying to sell a sizable portion of T-Mobile's assets to a smaller mobile carrier in order to sway the DOJ. AT&T's incentive to compromise: It will owe T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom $6 billion in cash and compensation should the deal fall apart.
Two telecom M&A deals in 2011 with more immediate implications for enterprise customers are Verizon's $1.4 billion acquisition of cloud pioneer Terremark and CenturyLink's $3.7 billion acquisition of cloud and hosted service provider Savvis. (CenturyLink is the nation's third-largest telecom carrier, having merged with Qwest in April.)
3. Google and Motorola Mobility: Google's $12.5 billion deal to acquire this Motorola spinoff, a maker of smartphones and set-top boxes, was the second-largest tech deal of 2011. As my colleague Paul McDougall reported in August, the deal, which still must pass regulatory muster, is a clear sign that Google intends to take on Apple--and to a lesser extent RIM and Microsoft/Nokia--as a supplier of tightly integrated mobile devices, namely its Android operating system on Motorola smartphone and tablet hardware. Motorola's extensive patent portfolio also appealed to Google, as it seeks to fend off Apple and Microsoft lawsuits claiming Android squats on some of its intellectual property.
2. HP and Autonomy: This $10.3 billion deal was the biggest enterprise software acquisition of the year--too big, according to many pundits, as the price tag was almost 12 times Autonomy's 2010 revenue. But HP's CEO at the time, Leo Apotheker, since ousted and replaced by Meg Whitman, needed to make a splash amid investor concerns that the hottest IT markets were passing HP by. And no question, Autonomy's no slouch. It's a leader in enterprise content management software--search, archiving, e-discovery, and more--helping customers make sense of their big (unstructured) data.
1. SAP and SuccessFactors: SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott told InformationWeek in October that SAP was ready to "let the tiger out of the cage" when it comes to cloud computing. Its $3.4 billion deal to buy SuccessFactors, a maker of cloud-based HR, recruitment, and collaboration software, announced a month later, opened that cage. And by naming SuccessFactors' dynamic CEO, Lars Dalgaard, to head up its cloud business, SAP is finally moving beyond its roots as an on-premises software company and its half-hearted early attempt at SaaS, Business ByDesign, aimed at midsize customers. Expect SAP to move even more aggressively into the cloud, through acquisition or internal development--probably both.
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