Mergers and acquisitions are constantly in the news. Tech companies buy other tech companies to acquire new technology and it’s hard to remember which companies own which brands. For example, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has acquired a large number of tech companies over the last several years. Only some of these acquisitions made the news.
You probably heard about Google’s $2.1 billion Fitbit acquisition in 2020. The acquisition came after Google failed at popularizing its own smart watch called wearOS. The Fitbit acquisition made headlines mostly because of antitrust lawsuits and controversy surrounding how Google plans to use the data.
Although Google’s acquisitions seem to dominate the news, there were 3 other interesting mergers and acquisitions in 2020 that you may not have heard about.
1. Salesforce acquired Slack for $27.7 billion
Salesforce is a high-powered customer relationship management (CRM) platform that outperforms just about every other CRM on the market. The only true rival to Salesforce is Infusionsoft, but even then, Salesforce provides more features.
Despite Salesforce’s number one position in the CRM market, the company is still expanding its capabilities – this time by acquiring Slack.
Slack is a unique team communication and collaboration platform unlike any other. With functions similar to IRC, Slack can do things other platforms can’t. For example, chat rooms are organized by topic, users can create private groups, and there is a direct message feature. These features are a blast from the past, but Slack presents them with a modern twist.
Slack and Salesforce are a dynamo
Salesforce is already a tech giant, grossing more than $20 billion in revenue each year. Acquiring Slack was a move designed to improve the services provided by Salesforce. The two software applications make a perfect match and will ultimately help Salesforce customers become more successful.
Cybersecurity is one of the biggest concerns that comes up with mergers and acquisitions. There have been too many data breaches caused by careless transitions in the past. Transferring ownership of a tech company requires transferring digital assets and company documents, which can leave data exposed to hackers.
Most companies use secure services, like Caplinked, to manage acquisitions safely in the cloud. Having a secure, virtual data room during the M&A process makes it easier to manage documents, including contracts and proprietary information. A virtual data room is a secure alternative to sending files using FTP or storing them in password-protected folders on a web server.
Considering both Salesforce and Slack already have millions of users and are fully aware of cyberthreats, they probably used a secure virtual data room during the acquisition. At least, we can hope they managed their documents with extra care.
Why did Salesforce acquire Slack?
Slack is one of the most unique software applications on the market, but its uniqueness goes largely unnoticed by people who don’t need to use its most unique feature: channels.
On the surface, Slack looks like any other project management application with a slick user interface and simple features. However, Slack is a powerhouse and a life-saver for teams who need to keep conversations about projects separate and well-organized.
With Slack, a team can create multiple “Channels” to house communications about each project separately. All content in a channel is searchable and users can create organized threads to keep side conversations even more organized. It’s kind of like having a miniature discussion forum within a chatroom.
No doubt, Slack will be a phenomenal addition to the services Salesforce already provides.
2. Uber acquired Postmates
Uber acquired Postmates for $2.65 billion in stock. Postmates is a food delivery service similar to GrubHub and DoorDash. Although all acquisitions can seem questionable, this particular acquisition has people concerned. Uber has been losing billions of dollars each year, while food delivery services are barely profitable.
What’s more, food delivery services seem to cause more problems than they solve. For example, to place orders, GrubHub tricks customers into calling special phone numbers that charge a premium to the restaurant. Food delivery services just aren’t profitable for the business or employees, and charge restaurants outrageous commissions of up to 60%.
While it’s just speculation, some people think the acquisition was an attempt to prevent investors from walking away from Uber. It’s possible that Uber has some tricks up its sleeve that might make the food delivery industry profitable, but that has yet to come out.
3. Amazon acquired Zoox
Amazon has been dominating the online retail market for years. Today, many businesses say they are forced to sell on Amazon because they can’t compete in the search engines to get traffic to their website. It costs more, but it’s easier to get sales.
Amazon bought the autonomous vehicle developer Zoox for $1.2 billion. Just like Google, Amazon has taken an active interest in self-driving vehicles and has invested in autonomous vehicle startups. The reason for this acquisition is fairly obvious.
A Forbes contributor interviewed Amazon executives and venture capitalists and discovered the acquisition is intended for “last mile delivery” services. Amazon wants to replace human delivery drivers for the last stretch of delivery since it’s the most expensive part of delivery services.
Although it sounds good, many are hoping Amazon won’t launch autonomous delivery just yet. Self-driving cars aren’t anywhere near perfect. In fact, autonomous vehicles have caused multiple fatalities. For instance, an Uber self-driving car killed a pedestrian in Arizona in 2018 when the safety driver was distracted by a video on their cell phone. Other fatalities have been caused by self-driving technology installed in Tesla vehicles.
Hopefully, before this technology is rolled out for commercial use, self-driving cars will become better at identifying pedestrians even at night. It’s clear that safety drivers aren’t taking their jobs too seriously.
What’s the next tech merger or acquisition?
It’s hard to predict what the next merger or acquisition will be, but it’s safe to guess that Google will probably initiate several more acquisitions in 2021. Other than Google, it’s hard to say what the future will hold. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s next.