The latest market report from technology mergers & acquisition advisory firm, Hampleton Partners, shows vertical, ERP and information management applications as the most sought-after enterprise software acquisition targets. Strategic and financial buyers are increasingly looking to new segments such as artificial intelligence as mergers and acquisition targets.
The Enterprise Software M&A report, which covers mergers and acquisitions in the period between July 2014 and December 2016, reveals a 37 per cent boost to the total value of enterprise software M&A to $43.8 billion, even as deal flow during the second half of 2016 hit its lowest point in three years, falling to 412 deals, compared with 496 in the first half of the year. The trailing 30-day median revenue multiples remained steady at 3.1x while the median EBITDA multiple also remained strong, closing at 14.2x.
Out of 2365 transactions in the trailing 30-month period, activity in the vertical applications sub-sector accounted for 29 per cent of all deal making, followed by activity in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) space and information management with 28 per cent and 18 per cent of all transactions respectively. Californian fleet management and mobile asset tracking systems specialist Trimble Navigation was the sector’s top acquirer in the last 30 months, with a total of 12 deals. Followed by Hollywood-headquartered cloud services and digital media provider J2 Global and Chicago-based private equity firm, Thoma Bravo, with 10 transactions each, then Microsoft, IBM and Los Angeles’ Marlin Equity Partners with 9 apiece. Meanwhile, 2016's top buyer was Apple, announcing six transactions for the full year followed by j2 Global, Thoma Bravo, with five deals each.
Internet buyers and AI momentum grows
Traditional software vendors are being challenged as buyers in the enterprise software space by consumer and Internet companies looking to boost their business-to-business credentials. This is particularly evident in newer enterprise technology sectors such as artificial intelligence, where Apple's acquisition of Indian and US machine learning startups Tuplejump and Turi stands out. Meanwhile, Salesforce plans on accelerating investment in AI despite pledging an M&A slowdown this year following its prolific buying spree in 2016.