Itty-bitty Bitcoin M&A

Contact: Ben Kolada, Scott Denne

Although the values of cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed, at least in the eyes of the beholders, the values of vendors in this sector so far haven’t followed suit. To date, we’ve recorded just a few acquisitions of cryptocurrency companies and assets, with nearly all having been done by tiny acquirers. The dealmaking so far suggests that the new-world currency medium has an odyssey in front of it before it becomes an established, liquid currency, and before its exchanges become worthy of big-ticket acquisitions.

Ripple Labs, with backing from Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners and others, ‘acq-hired’ simplehoney as it builds out a payment protocol to transact in Bitcoin and other currencies. CoinMyne, a maker of Bitcoin-mining software, added to its software products by purchasing the CGWatcher and CGRemote products and hiring their creator, Justin Milone. And yesterday, EffTec International, a penny stock, grabbed BitBank. (We’ve also noticed that Bitcoin is finding its way into M&A in other ways – Lemon, a mobile wallet startup acquired by LifeLock for $43m, had $1.2m worth of Bitcoin on its balance sheet.)

Acquisitions are likely to remain small for quite some time, given recent events. The ongoing implosion of Bitcoin exchange MtGox means that the road to high-profile liquidity for cryptocurrency vendors is going to take longer than initial hype suggested, if it materializes at all. However, if banks and retailers become comfortable with Bitcoin as either a currency or a secure medium for transacting, deals could swing upward, as we’ve seen with the rising volume of mobile payment acquisitions.

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Citrix takes a breather from M&A

Contact: Ben Kolada

After setting an M&A spending record in 2012, Citrix has stayed on the sidelines. The company announced six acquisitions that year, including two of its three largest deals, and spent more than $750m, the most in its history. It has been pretty quiet since then, announcing only two acquisitions in 2013 for a combined total of just $11m.

The cooldown contrasts the trend we’re seeing among the other large tech vendors, most of which have moved toward fewer and larger acquisitions. (Our recent Tech M&A Outlook webinar talks more about this trend.) Citrix participated in this activity in 2012, when it announced its all-cash acquisitions of Bytemobile for $435m and Zenprise for $327m. What’s especially noteworthy is that those two deals combined were worth more than the free cash flow Citrix generated in all of 2012 (though we note that the Zenprise buy closed in January 2013).

However, poor financial results have derailed Citrix’s dealmaking machine since then. In the 15 months since announcing the Zenprise purchase, Citrix’s quarterly results have been rocky – it has lowered guidance or posted results below analysts’ expectations a half-dozen times.

Its recently released 10-K shows that Citrix paid $5.3m for Byte Squared in September and $5.5m for Skytide in December, its only two deals of 2013. At $28.2m, the lone purchase Citrix has announced so far this year, Framehawk, already surpasses its 2013 total M&A spending, but still falls below its three-year median acquisition size of $45m, according to The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase.

Citrix’s recent acquisitions

Year announced* Target Target abstract Deal value
2014 Framehawk Application mobilization software provider $28.2m
2013 Skytide CDN and streaming video analytics $5.5m
2013 Byte Squared Mobile file-editing software $5.3m
2012 Zenprise Mobile device management software $327m
2012 Beetil Service Management Helpdesk management SaaS Not disclosed
2012 Bytemobile Mobile traffic management software $435m
2012 Virtual Computer Desktop virtualization software provider Not disclosed
2012 Apere Single-sign-on security vendor $25.2m
2012 Podio Team collaboration SaaS provider $45.3m

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase *In 2012, Citrix also acquired two unnamed companies


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Time is money

Contact: Ben Kolada

Novacap Technologies is selling Canadian hosting portfolio company iWeb Group to Internap Network Services for $145m, representing a quick – and solid – return for the Canadian private equity firm. Just two years ago, it took iWeb private for $69.6m (including the assumption of net debt).

Under Novacap, iWeb grew total revenue 50% while maintaining basically the same operating profit margin (only adjusted EBITDA was disclosed in iWeb’s sale to Internap). It also now serves 10,000 SMB customers in more than 100 countries. Though Novocap’s total ROI isn’t immediately clear, the firm undoubtedly did well on its two-year holding. Jefferies advised Internap, while Bank Street Group worked the sell-side.

On the flip side, for Internap, this deal highlights the interplay between two of the most important elements of any transaction: time and money. In this case, waiting longer to buy iWeb meant Internap ended up paying more for it, both on an absolute and relative basis. And Internap will end up paying for it longer: the company is taking on new debt to cover some of the cost of iWeb, which is twice as high as it was the last time the company was on the block.

iWeb’s rising valuation

Metric Sale to Novacap* Sale to Internap
Deal value $69.6m $145m
Price/sales 2.3x 3.3x
Price/EBITDA 9.3x 13.2x**

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase *Using enterprise value **Using adjusted EBITDA

A round trip for Active Network shares

Contact: Ben Kolada

After a little more than two years of trading on the NYSE, registration and events management software vendor Active Network is leaving the public eye in a $1bn take-private by Vista Equity Partners. The deal carries a fairly paltry valuation, and only returns the company’s share price to basically the same level where it sold them in the IPO. And that was when Active Network’s revenue was roughly one-quarter smaller than it is today.

Vista is paying $14.50 per share in cash for Active Network, valuing the company’s equity at $1.05bn. Including the assumption of cash and capital lease obligations, the deal values Active Network at 2.1x trailing sales. For comparison, the company’s much smaller competitor Cvent is currently valued much higher at $1.4bn, or 14.5x trailing revenue. Citi Capital Markets advised Active Network, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch advised Vista Equity Partners.

We’d argue that the subpar valuation is the combination of meager growth and an inability to meet financial expectations. Wall Street expects Active Network to grow revenue 8.5% this year, to about $455m. Although that’s from a much larger base, it’s still a fraction of the 30% growth analysts expect Cvent to record. Further, financial expectations for Active Network are far from certain, given that the company has repeatedly issued results below its own estimates.

In a roundabout way of acknowledging the company’s public troubles, Vista took a charitable view of the per-share premium, noting that its offer is 111% above the average year-to-date closing price for Active Network. A more grounded view, however, shows the offer only matches Active Network’s $15 IPO price in May 2011, and represents a more common 27% premium to its closing share price Friday.

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Here comes consumer hardware?

Contact: Ben Kolada

MakerBot Industries recently turned about $11m in funding into a potential $604m sale ($403m in stock upfront, with $201m in earnout potential). Just as the company transforms its newfound parent Stratasys’ market potential, moving the commercial 3-D printer manufacturer into the consumer market, the MakerBot sale may also help transform the greater technology industry, and bring consumer hardware back into favor.

We’ve written before about the emergence of consumer hardware in the form of wearable technology. As we noted then, the majority of companies tackling this nascent market are large multinational corporations such as Nike, Apple and Google.

That could soon change. VCs often lament that hardware is too capital intensive and can quickly get commoditized. But MakerBot’s growth and exit valuation certainly don’t reflect those concerns.

After only a few years in business, and having taken in roughly $11m in funding, MakerBot was able to grow total revenue to $15.7m last year. The company was set to smash that this year – in just the first quarter, it recorded $11.5m in sales.

Meanwhile, some VCs have complained recently that consumer software startups have become too stale, and the market too fad-driven. (Of course, some of that griping may be coming from VCs that missed out on the $1bn exits of consumer-focused startups Tumblr and Waze in the past month.) Nonetheless, MakerBot’s gold-plated exit may help some of the venture shops broaden their investment areas.

MakerBot’s funding history

Year – Amount – Investors
2009 – $75,000 – Individual investors
2010 – $1.2m – 500 Startups, Angel Investors, Bezos Expeditions, Founder Collective, High Line Venture Partners, Lerer Ventures, Thrive Capital, True Ventures
2011 – $10m – Angel investors, Bezos Expeditions, Foundry Group, RRE Ventures, True Ventures

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase

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Making money with coupons

Contact: Ben Kolada

Online coupon directory vendor RetailMeNot, formerly known as WhaleShark Media, filed its IPO paperwork on Monday. A total of seven investment banks crowded onto the offering, which could initially value the company in the ballpark of $800m. Meanwhile, a recent high-priced buyout and a couple of more coupon deals that we hear are in the pipeline could make 2013 a breakout year for the online couponing industry.

RetailMeNot has grown dramatically since its incorporation as smallponds in 2007. Through organic and inorganic growth, RetailMeNot increased total revenue 80% to $145m last year. The company primarily did business as WhaleShark Media throughout its lifetime, but rebranded as RetailMeNot this year, taking the name of a startup it acquired in 2010 and whose websites now account for the majority of its traffic.

No fewer than seven investment banks have piled onto the offering, with Morgan Stanley taking the lead left spot. RetailMeNot plans to trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol SALE.

The midpoint valuation of recent comparable transactions suggests that the company could debut at about $800m, or roughly 5x its trailing sales ($155m as of March 31). RetailMeNot was valued at 5.6x trailing sales in its $159m sale to WhaleShark Media in 2010. More recently, we estimate that Slickdeals was valued at 4.6x sales in its quiet sale to Warburg Pincus at the turn of this year.

At least two other coupon companies will be closely watching RetailMeNot’s debut. We’ve heard that CouponMom and dealnews have also been in the market recently.

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‘Progress-ing’ in a restructuring

Contact: Ben Kolada

Continuing its yearlong restructuring, Progress Software is selling its Apama complex event processing (CEP) assets to Software AG, effectively unwinding its 2005 acquisition of the startup. Although asset sales have become particularly popular and Progress has certainly been on a corporate diet lately, this move wasn’t widely expected in part because Progress had seemed to indicate that Apama was part of its core business.

In April 2012, Progress announced a restructuring plan that, among other moves, would refocus on its core OpenEdge, DataDirect and Apama products. However, the company has since had a change of heart regarding Apama. In announcing the divestiture, Progress said Apama’s target market of Wall Street and big telcos, as well as its deployment and sales model, differ significantly from Progress’ application development platform, which targets the midmarket. (We note that Progress is retaining Apama’s core decision analytics capability.)

The deal follows Progress’ sale of 10 product lines during the two previous quarters. Terms weren’t disclosed. (For the record, Progress paid $25m for Apama in April 2005.) According to our understanding, Software AG is paying less for Apama – both on an absolute and relative basis – than TIBCO paid in a directly comparable CEP deal earlier this week, when it reached for StreamBase Systems. We’ll have a longer report on this acquisition in an upcoming Daily 451.

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The coupon company behind the buyout curtain

Contact: Ben Kolada

While coupons can save shoppers some money, Web-based coupon companies can sometimes cost private equity (PE) firms a lot of money. According to our sources, a large PE shop picked up an online coupon company around the beginning of this year in a deal that valued the low-profile company at more than $100m.

No announcement was made and certainly no terms were disclosed. However, we’ve uncovered all of that information.

To our subscribers, which company do you think this was? We’ll give you a few more hints: the company hadn’t taken any funding and the deal record includes some estimated information. We also have an estimate for the price paid, though we’re holding that for now.

Bragging rights go to the user who names the company and unofficial ‘industry insider’ status goes to the user who both names the company and the price. Tweet your guesses to us  @451TechMnA

The value of information

Contact: Ben Kolada

In its largest-ever acquisition, IHS is paying $1.4bn for Southfield, Michigan-based automotive data and information provider R.L. Polk & Co. Consumers may know the company better as the provider of the CARFAX vehicle information product. The deal is a significant move to grow a relatively young IHS division.

While IHS Automotive was launched just two years ago, Polk was founded in 1870, nearly four decades before Henry Ford’s first Model T hit the road. The company today provides online market research and a database of VINs for the automobile industry. Its Polk division accounts for about 40% of revenue. The remainder of revenue comes from its CARFAX division, which provides an online database of vehicle history information for used car dealers and consumers.

IHS claims growth potential was the rationale for this acquisition. Although Polk’s total annual revenue has only grown in the mid- to single-digit range, its CARFAX product has recorded ‘solid’ double-digit growth annually. Meanwhile, IHS says CARFAX is only 20-30% penetrated in the US. IHS also sees particular upside in international markets, where Polk currently generates just 12% of its sales.

IHS is paying $1.4bn (90% in cash and 10% in stock) for Polk, valuing the target at 3.5x its annual revenue and approximately 14x its adjusted EBITDA. (IHS disclosed that Polk generated adjusted EBITDA in the mid-20% range.) Evercore Partners advised Polk, while M. Klein and Company advised IHS.

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‘Nuanced’ talk with Tweddle Connect acquisition

Contact: Ben Kolada

Speech recognition vendor Nuance Communications is no stranger to M&A, having announced 13 deals worth more than $1bn in just the past two years. However, while the company eventually provides some details on most of its transactions, it rarely gives as granular of information as it did in today’s $80m acquisition of Tweddle Connect from Tweddle Group. The need to satiate an activist shareholder may explain the company’s unusual information disclosure.

Nuance often discloses deal values for its acquisitions, more often in SEC filings than in press releases, but it rarely holds conference calls to explain its M&A decisions, much less one that concerns an asset purchase. The company broke the practice in its reach for Tweddle Connect.

Nuance not only provided detailed financial numbers in the press release – the acquired assets are expected to generate $25m in revenue and $13m in cash flow from operations in fiscal 2014 – but also held a conference call to further explain its move. Neither the acquisitions of JATA or QuadraMed’s Quantim division, worth $265m and $230m, respectively, received this level of attention.

Disclosures continued on the call. Before admitting that Nuance doesn’t usually provide this level of granularity, CFO Tom Beaudoin disclosed that Nuance’s automobile group, which Tweddle will fit into, grew 30% on a CAGR over the past four years, and is expected to generate $130m in sales in fiscal 2013.

One possible explanation for the new level of candor and transparency at Nuance could be the rising role of activist investor Carl Icahn. Last month, an SEC filing showed Icahn increased his stake in the company from about 9.3% to 10.7%.

The gadfly investor has used a company’s M&A track record as part of his stirrings in the past. For now, Icahn hasn’t publicly indicated what steps – if any – he’ll push for at Nuance. But as tech companies including Motorola, Lawson Software, BEA Systems, Mentor Graphics and others can attest, Icahn doesn’t necessarily stay silent for long.

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