DataBank expands to the Twin Cities

Contact: Ben Kolada

Dallas-based DataBank has expanded beyond its Texan roots, acquiring Minneapolis-based VeriSpace. The deal is part of a growth strategy aimed at entering new markets in part through M&A. With VeriSpace, DataBank now operates eight datacenters with more than 180,000 square feet of datacenter space. DataBank was acquired by Avista Capital Partners in June 2011.

VeriSpace provides server colocation, managed hosting and disaster recovery services to enterprises. The company operates a 10,000-square-foot facility in Minneapolis suburb Eden Prairie. VeriSpace was founded in 2002 by Minnesota commercial real estate developer Dave Frauenshuh, and sits in a commercial office complex located about 12 miles south of downtown Minneapolis.

The greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has seen a little bit of moving and shaking in the past few years. In May last year, Cologix picked up Minnesota Gateway and in March 2010, TDS bought VISI for $18m. In Minneapolis, competitors in the colocation market include XO Communications, VISI, Atomic Data, Cologix and Implex. Competition in the interconnection services area will most likely come from SunGard, Velocity Telephone and zColo.

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Consolidating the Google Apps ecosystem

Contact: Ben Kolada

The Google Apps ecosystem saw continued consolidation on Wednesday as UK Google Apps developer and reseller Ancoris announced that it was acquiring Appogee for an undisclosed sum. Google and other enterprise apps providers are using resellers to target the SMB market, a strategy that has spawned a plethora of application systems integrators. Consolidation in this sector has taken off in the past few years and is providing extremely fast growth for some companies.

Application software OEMs, such as Google but also including, have focused their efforts on targeting the enterprise segment, and instead have used resellers to penetrate the SMB market. Meanwhile, cloud services are now affordable for SMBs, and millions have migrated away from their old premises-based systems to modern cloud services.

VARs like Ancoris and Cloud Sherpas add functionality to the apps they resell, such as multiple domain setup, administrative capabilities and more fleshed-out instant messaging capabilities. Essentially, they’re making paid Google Apps more suitable for SMBs by answering shortcomings not addressed by default by Google.

Increasing adoption of cloud services combined with consolidation has played out particularly well for Cloud Sherpas, which has acquired eight companies in the past two years, including two so far this year. The company’s CEO has publicly said he expects revenue to break $100m this year, up from about $75m last year and less than $1m in 2009.

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Taking advantage of the times

Contact: Ben Kolada

While the real estate industry overall is still hurting, M&A in the construction and facilities management software space is growing. Driving deal flow is the same factor that depressed the real estate market – the macroeconomy. Companies are continuing to seek new ways to cut costs, and increasing facilities’ efficiency is becoming a popular option. Growth, alongside fragmentation in the facilities management software sector, is leading to increasing consolidation.

Similar to trying to squeeze additional productivity out of employees, companies are now trying to squeeze additional efficiencies out of their facilities. In fact, as IBM stated in its acquisition of TRIRIGA, property and real estate are the second-largest costs to a business after employee compensation.

As a result, many vendors in the facilities and property management software segment are experiencing significant growth. Accruent, which claims to be the largest facilities management software provider, expects to grow revenue approximately 50% this year. (However, we’d note that M&A has helped the company’s upward revenue trajectory. Accruent has announced four acquisitions since 2011.)

The sector’s growth potential has even attracted some of the largest acquirers. IBM paid $108m for TRIRIGA in 2011 and last year Oracle acquired Skire’s assets. Beyond growth potential, vendors will consolidate the fragmented market, and acquire to add complementary offerings to their portfolios. Accruent, for example, bought Evoco in part to add construction management software to its existing facilities management software products.

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AirWatch raises $200m to propel growth

Contact: Ben Kolada, Chris Hazelton

AirWatch, considered one of the largest mobile device management (MDM) vendors, has raised $200m in its first round of outside funding. Insight Venture Partners led the round. This round of funding will build on several hundred million dollars the company has already invested in its MDM products and now-growing focus on mobile application deployment and management.

Terms of the investment weren’t disclosed, but we’re told the funding round values AirWatch at a whopping $1bn, which no doubt restricts its options in terms of an exit. The largest MDM acquisition we’ve seen so far was Citrix’s takeout of Zenprise for $327m. Zenprise had raised a total of $79m.

The investment will be used to increase staff in Asia as the company looks to build on 2012 revenue of nearly $100m, expanding on earlier international growth. Specifically, AirWatch says the funding will be used for product development and strategic M&A. The latter is particularly noteworthy, since the company has so far focused solely on organic growth, and hasn’t announced a single acquisition since its founding in 2003.

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Informatica’s shy M&A

Contact: Ben Kolada

Those merely glancing at the headlines of Informatica’s press releases would see that on Wednesday the company unveiled the latest version of its cloud-integration PaaS product, Cloud Spring 2013. However, only by reading further would an interested party see that the company has also quietly acquired cloud process automation vendor Active Endpoints. This isn’t the first time Informatica has been shy with its M&A announcements, but recent financial results could give the company the confidence to be much louder with its future acquisitions.

Informatica’s previous small tuck-in of Data Scout only came to light with the launch of Informatica Cloud MDM in September 2012 and the subsequent release of Informatica Cloud Winter 2013. Perhaps that deal didn’t deserve significant attention, as it cost Informatica just $6m.

In fact, with the exception of Heiler Software, Informatica’s dealmaking since 2011 has involved mostly small, sub-$10m tuck-ins. Its median deal size from the beginning of 2011 to today (including Heiler Software) is just $7m. That compares with a median deal size of $55m for the 11 transactions it announced before then.

The turn toward smaller acquisitions, and hiding some of them in product announcements, could be explained to a degree by the unfolding economy in Europe. Europe’s struggling economy eventually hit home and weighed heavily on Informatica’s Q3 2012 profit.

Although Europe is still experiencing economic turmoil, Informatica seems to have been able to cushion the continent’s effect on its top line. After a downturn in profit in the third quarter, the company recently released results that showed better-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter. (However, net income still came in below the year-ago period.) If future results continue to play to Informatica’s favor, we could see the company becoming more boisterous with its M&A announcements in the future. We’ll have a longer report on Informatica’s acquisition of Active Endpoints in our next Daily 451.

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Opera’s cautious move into video optimization

Contact: Ben Kolada

Coinciding with its fourth-quarter earnings release, mobile Web developer Opera Software has announced the acquisition of mobile video optimization startup Skyfire Labs for $50m in cash and stock, with an earnout potentially tripling that price. The deal is a strategic combination – bringing together Skyfire’s carrier-focused mobile video optimization offerings with Opera’s mobile browser products – but its conservative structure suggests that Opera isn’t yet confident enough to put all of its eggs into the video optimization market.

Using an enterprise value of $50m (Skyfire had $8m cash on its balance sheet), the purchase – Opera’s largest ever – is valued at 12.2x trailing revenue. However, if Skyfire’s sales live up to expectations, its price-to-projected revenue valuation would be a more palatable 2.9x. Architect Partners, which helped Skyfire raise its $8m series C round, advised the company on its sale. Skyfire had raised $41m in venture capital. (We’ve made our M&A KnowledgeBase record on the transaction, which includes full financial details and round-by-round funding information, freely available here.)

Besides the $50m upfront payment, Opera is on the hook for an earnout of up to $105m in cash and stock. We’d note that although Opera also just announced a $100m credit facility, it could elect to pay $79m of the earnout in stock.

Opera is no stranger to earnouts, using them in all six deals we’ve recorded for the company, but the sheer size of this earnout suggests that the company isn’t fully confident in the video optimization market’s potential. And rightfully so – nearly every video optimization vendor we know of has seen total revenue flatten over the past few years, and many are anxiously seeking exits. (For a longer report on the mobile video optimization market, click here.)

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Go Daddy the trendsetter

Contact: Ben Kolada

Shortly after acquiring accounting startup Outright Inc, announced that it has picked up mobile website creation startup for an undisclosed amount. With these two deals, the domain name registration and Web hosting giant is becoming a bit of a trendsetter in its M&A strategy. We’ve been predicting a trend of mass-market hosting providers moving beyond providing simply Web hosting to offering more services for their small business customers. provides a smartphone application that enables iPhone users to design and develop mobile websites without any coding. The company, less than a year old, had raised $700,000 in funding from Archimedes Labs, FLOODGATE Fund, SV Angel and angel investors. The deal makes sense since more and more people are more often accessing mobile, rather than fixed, websites.

With, Go Daddy further reinforces its desire to become a service provider, rather just another website hoster. Usually a pair of acquisitions of small startups wouldn’t merit much attention, but Go Daddy’s dealmaking sets the stage for a trend we expect to see more of – mass-market hosting companies buying their way into services. We’re working on a longer report on this trend that will be published soon.

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Breaking up the M&A way

Contact: Ben Kolada

Though previously engaged in a joint venture (JV) named Monitise Americas, mobile banking startup Monitise and Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) have been growing apart. Through a series of moves, the two companies, though still partners, seem to be getting ever closer to completely severing their relationship.

The eventual breakup appears to be spearheaded by Monitise. For just over three years, Monitise and FIS owned a JV named Monitise Americas. However, in November 2011, Monitise brought the JV completely under its own control, perhaps as a prelude to its next major M&A play.

Following the severing of that venture, FIS threw its weight behind Monitise competitor mFoundry, participating alongside MasterCard and existing investors in an $18m round of financing for mFoundry that was disclosed in December 2011. Not only was FIS’s involvement here a competitive slap in the face, but the inclusion of MasterCard in the round put another nail in the coffin, as MasterCard rival Visa and its affiliates have been longtime investors in Monitise.

In response, just three months later, Monitise announced its $173m all-stock acquisition of North American counterpart Clairmail. Clairmail was a direct competitor to mFoundry, similar in both headcount and product portfolio.

With tension mounting, FIS recently announced that it is acquiring the remainder of mFoundry that it doesn’t already own for $120m in cash. If the relationship between FIS and Monitise continues, it certainly won’t be as amicable as before. Although Monitise still called FIS a partner in its most recent annual report (released in September 2012), the feeling may no longer be mutual.

Breaking up the M&A way

Date Event
November 2011 Monitise buys out the remainder of Monitise Americas that it didn’t already own from FIS.
December 2011 FIS invests alongside MasterCard in Monitise competitor mFoundry.
March 2012 Monitise acquires mFoundry rival Clairmail for $173m.
January 2013 FIS acquires the remainder of Monitise/Clairmail competitor mFoundry that it didn’t already own for $120m.

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase, 451 Research

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The ‘fiscal cliff’ hangover

Contact: Ben Kolada

Talks of a ‘fiscal cliff’ and potential changes in capital gains taxes spurred company executives and their bankers into action in the final hours of 2012. In a way, that anxiety spilled over into the beginning of this year when we saw a flurry of acquisition announcements in the first few weeks of January.

However, many of the announcements in early January were deals that closed in December. Throughout the month, we saw a continuation of the downward trend in deal volume. On the heels of a 6% decline in total deal volume for full-year 2012, the total number of transactions announced in January 2013 dropped 15% from the year-ago period. It was the fewest number of announcements in the first month of a year since the recession year of 2009.

Contributing to the slowdown in M&A activity is the fact that, according to the US Department of Commerce, the US GDP shrank 0.1% in the fourth quarter (though that number is subject to revision). Although many consider the dip a one-time slump due to declining government spending, much of the tech industry is struggling to find any growth.

In a survey conducted at the end of 2012 by ChangeWave Research, a service of 451 Research, 26% of respondents expected their IT spending to decline in the first quarter of 2013 – a full 10 percentage points higher than the level of respondents who projected increased IT spending in the quarter.

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Making sense of j2’s Ziff Davis acquisition

Contact: Ben Kolada

At first glance, j2 Global’s acquisition of Ziff Davis Media seemed to be a stretch. However, upon further review of j2’s M&A strategy and recently released financial statements for Ziff Davis, the company actually meets many of j2’s requirements for its diversification acquisitions: Ziff Davis has a strong management team, operates in a fragmented market and, perhaps most importantly, is increasing revenue.

Technology content provider Ziff Davis Media was a powerhouse in its time, but it struggled as consumers moved from print to digital media. Total revenue at the company declined from $300m in 2001 to $76m in 2007, when more than half of its revenue was still coming from print advertising.

Ziff Davis filed for bankruptcy in 2008, and was subsequently carved up in four transactions. The Ziff Davis chunk being acquired by j2 is owned by CEO Vivek Shah and Great Hill Partners. Shah, a digital publishing veteran with experience at Time Inc and the Fortune/Money Group, and his team helped turn around ailing Ziff Davis, bump up revenue and return it to profitability.

J2 released financial statements this week for Ziff Davis that show the company is in growth mode. Unaudited results for the nine months ended September 30 show revenue increased 70% over the prior year to $32m. In the 12 months ended September 30, the company generated almost $45m in revenue, with nearly $8m in EBITDA.

For anyone interested in what goes on in The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase, we’ve updated our merger record for j2’s acquisition of Ziff Davis and made it available for free. Click here to view the record.

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