The 10 Biggest Tech Acquisitions Of 2014

Tech Movers And Shakers

The tech world is no stranger to big-time mergers and acquisitions, with 2014 seeing a bunch of M&A announcements and deals go down. But what deals had the most impact on the channel?

Security solution provider superpowers FishNet Security and Accuvant decided to no longer go it alone, combining to create a $1.5 billion behemoth. VMware, which struggled for years to get traction with mobile virtualization, acquired mobile device management vendor AirWatch for $1.5 billion. The biggest M&A rumor of 2013 proved to be true in 2014 when Lenovo unveiled plans to buy IBM's x86 server business, reshuffling the entire server landscape.

The year even wrapped up with a blockbuster deal, with Riverbed announcing it would be acquired for $3.6 billion in cash by two private equity firms.

Here we present the 10 biggest tech acquisitions of 2014. Also, check out the rest of CRN's biggest and best of 2014.

10. FishNet And Accuvant Merge

America's two biggest security solution providers -- FishNet and Accuvant -- agreed to come together to create a $1.5 billion behemoth with 1,400 employees and 60 locations across North America. Both companies have enjoyed enormous growth between 2009 and 2013, with Denver-based Accuvant, No. 48 on the CRN SP500, realizing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 32 percent, and Overland Park, Kan.-based FishNet, No. 46 on the CRN SP500, achieving a CAGR of 22 percent.

The new company will be owned primarily by the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm that acquired a majority stake of Accuvant in March. Accuvant CEO Dan Burns will lead the combined company once the deal closes, which is expected to happen in the first quarter of 2015. Rich Fennessy, who replaced FishNet Founder Gary Fish as CEO in November 2013, will stay on as an adviser during the integration process, according to a statement from the companies.

9. Cisco Acquires Metacloud

Cisco's Intercloud is based on the idea of connecting private and public clouds and letting enterprises use a mix of both. Cisco picked up some strategically important technology in September by acquiring Metacloud, a startup focused on OpenStack-based private clouds. The deal came just after Hewlett-Packard acquired Eucalyptus, a startup that does something similar by letting customers connect private clouds with the Amazon EC2 public cloud.

Cisco plans to use Metacloud's technology to create hybrid clouds that marry service provider public clouds with remotely managed OpenStack private clouds. If Intercloud is to fulfill Cisco's goal of being a global network of clouds, the private cloud part is vitally important, which is one reason why Metacloud is a good fit for its portfolio.

8. SAP Acquires Concur

SAP announced a deal in September to acquire Concur, a developer of online travel and expense management applications, for $8.3 billion. The acquisition, one of the IT industry's biggest in 2014, was completed Dec. 4.

SAP originally made its mark by selling on-premises ERP applications to big companies. But in recent years, the Walldorf, Germany-based company has turned to the cloud, big time, making such acquisitions as SuccessFactors in 2012 ($3.4 billion) and developing new lines of cloud software internally.

Given that Concur's annual revenue was less than $1 billion, SAP certainly paid a premium for the company. The acquisition does bring 23,000 customers with 25 million users to SAP. And it puts the company's cloud revenue run-rate ahead of archival Oracle. While it remains to be seen if the Concur acquisition fulfills its promise, there's no longer any doubt about SAP's cloud commitment.

7. Riverbed To Be Acquired For $3.6 Billion

Riverbed Technology said in December it is set to be acquired for $3.6 billion in cash by two private equity firms -- Thoma Bravo and Teachers' Private Capital. The deal, which will be the largest acquisition ever for enterprise-tech-focused Thoma Bravo, is expected to close in the first half of 2015. Jerry Kennelly, chairman and CEO of Riverbed, said in a statement that the deal will allow Riverbed to break away from a slowdown in growth of the WAN acceleration market to reach the company's "next level of growth."

The acquisition was unanimously approved by Riverbed’s board of directors following a comprehensive review of strategic and financial alternatives that the company initiated in October. Kennelly will remain with the company in the same capacity, according to Riverbed.

6. Comcast To Acquire Time Warner Cable

In a blockbuster deal that would combine the "two largest cable companies," Comcast announced in February that it intended to acquire rival Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion. Through the deal, Comcast would get Time Warner's approximately 11 million U.S. subscribers, bringing the company's total subscriber base to about 30 million. Partners at the time said the acquisition would create a new channel "powerhouse" with the potential to reshape the telecom landscape against rivals AT&T and Verizon. The acquisition is still pending review by the FCC.

5. Lenovo Acquires Motorola Mobility

In a move partners hailed as one that would reshape the enterprise IT market, Lenovo said at the end of January that it was acquiring Google's Motorola Mobility division for $2.91 billion, two years after Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.

Under the deal, which became official in October, Lenovo now owns Motorola's mobile product lines, including the Moto X, Moto G, Moto E and the Droid series, as well as future Motorola products, while Google retains a majority of Motorola Mobility patents.

4. FireEye Buys Mandiant

To kick off 2014, FireEye unveiled its $1 billion acquisition of Mandiant, an Alexandria, Va.-based company that provides endpoint security, incident response services and computer forensics services. FireEye said at the time that the acquisition would boost the Milpitas, Calif.-based security vendor's own virtual machine malware analysis engine with Mandiant's platform capabilities.

"Together, the size and global reach of FireEye and Mandiant will enable us to innovate faster, create a more comprehensive solution, and deliver it to organizations around the world at a pace that is unmatched by other security vendors," FireEye Chairman and CEO David DeWalt (pictured) said in a statement at the time.

3. Dimension Data Acquires Nexus

Dimension Data nearly doubled its U.S. presence this year with its blockbuster acquisition of $471 million solution provider Nexus, a move that CEO Mark Slaga said would be "shaking up the channel community." A solution provider powerhouse on its own, Nexus had strong sales growth that nearly doubled since 2011, standing at No. 78 on CRN's SP500 and No. 80 on CRN's Fast Growth 150 list. The acquisition was a strategic geographic move for the $6 billion solution provider, growing its U.S. presence by 40 percent by adding 19 offices in the West, Southwest and Southeast. The acquisition followed up on Dimension Data's February acquisition of European solution provider NextiraOne, one of the largest buys in the company's history.

2. VMware Acquires Airwatch

VMware struggled for years to get traction with mobile virtualization, but despite having an interesting technology, those efforts didn't pan out. That was problematic for VMware because mobility is fast emerging as the hottest sector in all of enterprise IT.

VMware fixed that in one fell swoop by acquiring AirWatch, a top mobile device management vendor, for some $1.5 billion in January. Instantly, VMware had a mobile story -- and a very good one, according to the solution providers that worked with AirWatch prior to the deal.

AirWatch remains VMware's largest acquisition to date. But the deal could be well worth the price tag if AirWatch helps VMware create a big, new cash cow, which seems likely considering how much computing is being done on mobile devices these days, and how much enterprises need a way to manage the proliferation of devices in their environments.

1. Lenovo Buys IBM x86 Server Business

Lenovo kicked off the year with the blockbuster announcement that it acquired IBM's x86 server business for $2.1 billion. CRN first reported negotiations around the x86 server business sale in April 2013, with subsequent rumors that Dell also was negotiating for the buy.

More specifically, the acquisition gave Lenovo IBM's System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches; x86-based Flex integrated systems; NeXTScale and iDataPlex servers; and associated software, blade networking and maintenance operations.

The deal became official in October, positioning Lenovo to be a global server powerhouse and empowering its partners to go head-to-head with Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Cisco.

Consumer-Focused Honorable Mentions

There were also a handful of deals surrounding consumer-focused technologies in 2014 that are worth highlighting.

Microsoft made its first deal under CEO Satya Nadella, acquiring Sweden-based Minecraft maker Mojang for $2.5 billion.

Apple made its biggest acquisition ever, acquiring Beats Electronics and Beats Music for $3 billion.

Google got into the home automation game with its $3.2 billion purchase of high-tech thermostat and smoke detector maker Nest Labs.

Facebook also made acquisition headlines with deals to acquire startup WhatsApp for $19 billion, and Oculus VR, maker of virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, for $2 billion.