What do the main buyers in the tech M&A market see for the year ahead?

Contact: Brenon Daly

Last year was a big year for tech M&A, but what was the biggest deal of year? To find out, we asked the main buyers in the tech M&A market: corporate development executives. As part of a broader survey, we had them look at the handiwork of their peers and give us their pick for the most significant tech transaction of 2014.

So which deal got the Golden Tombstone? Facebook’s $19bn cash-and-stock acquisition of WhatsApp. The purchase last February by the 10-year-old social network represents the largest VC-backed exit in history. It drew twice as many votes as the second-place transaction, SAP’s $8.3bn reach for Concur Technologies, which is the largest-ever SaaS acquisition.

Additionally, we asked the corporate acquirers what they expected for the coming year. Their responses point to a continuation of the record run of tech M&A. More than half of corporate development executives (58%) indicated that they expect their company to pick up the pace of dealmaking in 2015. That stands as the highest forecast in a half-decade and compares with just one in five respondents (6%) projecting a slowdown in their M&A activity in the coming year.

Other highlights from the survey of corporate development executives include a bearish outlook for startup valuations, a record forecast for IPOs and the expectation of unprecedented amount of competition in deals from their private equity rivals in 2015. Subscribers: See the full report.

Top vote getter for ‘most significant tech transaction’

Year Deal
2014 Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp
2013 IBM’s acquisition of SoftLayer
2012 VMware’s acquisition of Nicira
2011 Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility
2010 Intel’s acquisition of McAfee
2009 Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems
2008 Hewlett-Packard’s acquisition of EDS
2007 Citrix’s acquisition of XenSource

Source: 451 Research Tech Corporate Development Outlook Survey

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