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Global technology merger-and-acquisition deals amounted to $634.1 billion in 2020, an increase of 91.8% year-on-year. Can 2021 match that for blockbuster activity?
By Scott Carey

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:

March 3: Okta to acquire Auth0 for $6.5B

Okta announced plans to acquire fellow identity management specialist Auth0 for $6.5 billion in an all-stock deal. That price represents a significant premium, as Auth0 was last valued at $1.92 billion privately after raising $120 million in July 2020; that investment was led by Salesforce Ventures.

At first glance, the acquisition looks highly complementary, as Okta builds SaaS tools to help organizations identify and authenticate access to applications across their business. Auth0 was established in 2013 by a team of ex-Microsoft engineers, intent on building a developer-friendly way to include identity management controls within applications.

Okta confirmed that Auth0 will continue to operate as an independent business unit, but Okta will look for integration opportunities once the deal has been rubber stamped.

"Combining Auth0's developer-centric identity solution with the Okta Identity Cloud will drive tremendous value for both current and future customers," Okta CEO Todd McKinnon said in a statement. "Okta's and Auth0's shared vision for the identity market, rooted in customer success, will accelerate our innovation, opening up new ways for our customers to leverage identity to meet their business needs. We are thrilled to join forces with the Auth0 team, as they are ideal allies in building identity for the internet and establishing identity as a primary cloud."

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February 26: Atlassian acquires Chartio

Atlassian announced that it's acquiring the popular data visualization tool Chartio for an undisclosed amount. The Australian software-as-a-service company will look to incorporate Chartio's collaborative dashboards and reports into its own analytics tools and to give users of tools like Jira and Confluence better insight into their data.

"Atlassian products are home to a treasure trove of data, and our goal is to unleash the power of this data so our customers can go beyond out-of-the-box reports and truly customize analytics to meet the needs of their organization," Zoe Ghani, head of product experience at platform at Atlassian, wrote in a blog post.

It's bad news for existing Chartio customers however, who have been told they have a year to export their data to another tool.

February 26: Cision acquires Brandwatch for $450M

The UK media landscape shifted in February when the media monitoring and PR database Cision acquired Brandwatch, the online consumer intelligence and social media listening platform, for $450 million in a combined cash and stock deal.

Based in Brighton on the English south coast, Brandwatch specializes in social listening that allows brands to get a better idea of consumer sentiment. Cision hopes to bring this together with its media and PR smarts to give clients a fuller picture of how consumers view their brand.

"The continued digital shift and widespread adoption of social media is rapidly and fundamentally changing how brands and organizations engage with their customers. This is driving the imperative that PR, marketing, social, and customer care teams fully incorporate the unique insights now available into consumer-led strategies," Cision CEO Abel Clark said in a statement.

February 24: Autodesk acquires Innovyze for $1B

Autodesk announced it would acquire software maker Innovyze for $1 billion in February. The Portland, OR-based Innovyze makes software to model, simulate and analyze water infrastructure.

Autodesk specializes in industrial CAD software for 3D modelling and is popular with architects and engineers. This acquisition is aimed at giving the company a foothold in the water utilities market.

"Autodesk's design DNA is found in just about every structure you see above ground and below, so it makes strategic sense to bring together our complementary organizations critical to much of the world's population," Colby Manwaring, CEO of Innovyze, said in a statement. "We look forward to completing the acquisition and getting to work, together."

February 18: CrowdStrike to acquire Humio for $400M

Hot on the heels of the SentinelOne acquisition of Scalyr, CrowdStrike announced it would acquire another logging specialist, Humio, for $400 million. Humio's unique selling point has always been unlimited logging, allowing customers to collect as much as they want for a better picture of how their systems are working.

"Humio had become the data lake for these enterprises, enabling searches for longer periods of time and from more data sources allowing them to understand their entire environment, prepare for the unknown, proactively prevent issues, recover quickly from incidents, and get to the root cause," Geeta Schmidt, Humio CEO wrote in a blog post.

CrowdStrike is looking to add this logging capability to its security monitoring tools to help customers react to threats in closer to real time.

"The combination of real-time analytics and smart filtering built into CrowdStrike's proprietary Threat Graph and Humio's blazing-fast log management and index-free data ingestion dramatically accelerates our capabilities beyond anything the market has seen to date," CrowdStrike CEO and co-founder George Kurtz said in a statement.

February 9: SentinelOne to acquire Scalyr for $155M

Cybersecurity analytics vendor SentinelOne made a splashy acquisition in February, picking up the log analytics and observability software specialist Scalyr for $155 million in stock and cash.

The combination of Scalyr's data analytics with our industry leading AI capabilities ushers in a new era of machine-speed prevention, detection, and response to attacks across the enterprise," Tomer Weingarten, CEO of SentinelOne, said in a statement.

Still a startup, although a well-funded one with a $3 billion private valuation, SentinelOne expects to integrate Scalyr's high-speed logging capabilities into its own software for faster threat intelligence, while also continuing to run it as a standalone product with a loyal set of current customers.

January 28: Workday to acquire Peakon for $700M

HR and finance software specialist Workday announced plans to buy employee feedback platform Peakon for $700 million in cash.

Founded in Denmark in 2014, Peakon had raised $68 million in funding to date. It offers organizations a software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool for regularly tracking employee sentiment and other tools to measure the happiness of the workforce, making it a highly complementary acquisition for Workday's own SaaS HR tools.

"Bringing Peakon into the Workday family will be very compelling to our customers - especially following an extraordinary past year that has magnified the importance of having a constant pulse on employee sentiment in order to keep people engaged and productive," Aneel Bhusri, cofounder and co-CEO of Workday said in a statement.

January 27: SAP to acquire Signavio

German software firm SAP announced it's acquiring fellow German firm Signavio, which specializes in cloud-native enterprise business process intelligence and management for an undisclosed fee. Signavio was last valued at $400 million after a $177 million funding round in July 2019.

The announcement was made in conjunction with a new product from SAP called Rise, a bundle of existing SAP software and services aimed at offering customers "business transformation-as-a-service".

SAP will aim to use Signavio's expertise around business process intelligence to help more customers optimize these processes as they become more digital.

"I cannot overstress the importance for companies to be able to design, benchmark, improve, and transform business processes across the enterprise to support new capabilities and business models," Luka Mucic, chief financial officer and member of SAP's Executive Board, said in a statement.

January 20: Citrix to acquire Wrike for $2.25 billion

Virtualization specialist Citrix announced the planned acquisition of collaboration software maker Wrike for $2.25 billion in cash. Citrix already has a digital work platform called Workspace and will look to fold the Wrike team and technology into that product.

"Together, Citrix and Wrike will deliver the solutions needed to power a cloud-delivered digital workspace experience that enables teams to securely access the resources and tools they need to collaborate and get work done in the most efficient and effective way possible across any channel, device or location," David Henshall, president and CEO of Citrix, said in a statement.

January 14: Cisco acquires Acacia for $4.5 billion

Cisco started the year by picking up the optical technology firm Acacia for $4.5 billion. Originally announced in July 2019, there was a lot of back and forth over the deal, with Cisco paying an additional $1.9 billion to get the purchase over the line.

Based in Massachusetts, Acacia specializes in high-speed optical systems such as digital signal processing, photonic integrated circuit modules, and transceivers for use in networking products and data centers - a set of technologies Cisco clearly sees as integral to future networks linking data centers, cloud, and service providers.

"Together we will ignite our strategy to transform the optical world as we know it, with innovative solutions to boost network capacity inside and outside the data center," Bill Gartner, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Optical Systems and Optics Group, said in a statement.

Acacia CEO Raj Shanmugaraj and company employees will join Cisco's Optics business upon completion of the deal.

January 13: Qualcomm to Acquire Nuvia for $1.4 billion

Hot on the heels of a burst of semiconductor consolidation at the end of 2020, Qualcomm announced it was acquiring Nuvia for around $1.4 billion.

The two-year-old Santa Clara-based company was founded by a team of Apple engineers and makes high-performance CPU chips.

"The Nuvia team are proven innovators, and like Qualcomm, have a strong heritage in creating leading technology and products... Together, we are very well positioned to redefine computing and enable our ecosystem of partners to drive innovation and deliver a new class of products and experiences for the 5G era," Cristiano Amon, president and CEO-elect at Qualcomm said in a statement.