M&A

12 years in, TechStars doubles down on corporate relationships

The goal of any accelerator is to back startups that are reaching exponential growth. Sometimes, though, the accelerator itself hits that inflection point. TechStars, which was founded in 2006, has expanded aggressively over the past twelve years. Once a single accelerator program for a handful of early-stage startups in Boulder, the program now encompasses 44 separate programs covering six continents and a large number of industry verticals. The firm has hundreds of employees across its headquarters and member programs, and more than 1,600 portfolio companies. Along the way, the mission of TechStars has evolved, from purely accelerating a cohort of startups to championing a culture of “entrepreneurship anywhere.” Co-CEO David Cohen, who co-founded TechStars along with Brad Feld, David Bro...

LendingTree is the secret success story of fintech

For all of the excitement centered around fintech over the past half-decade, most venture-backed fintech companies struggle to acclimate to public markets. LendingClub and OnDeck have plummeted since their late 2014 IPOs after several years of darling status in the private markets. GreenSky, which went public in May of this year, has been unable to return to its IPO price. Square is the exception to the rule. Sometimes we overlook the companies that hail from the era that precedes the current wave of fintech fascination, a vertical which has accumulated over $100 billion in global investment capital since 2010. One of these companies is LendingTree, which got its start height of the Internet bubble, going public in mid-February of 2000, less than a month before the Dot-com bubble peaked.  ...

Fall 2018 tech IPOs face myriad of headwinds

2018 has been an incredibly strong year for IPOs, particularly in the technology sector. Among the brand names this year that have made their public debuts are Dropbox, Xiaomi, Spotify (through a direct listing), DocuSign, Carbon Black, Zuora, among many, many others. Given the strength of these numbers through the first eight months of this year, the key question for the public markets is whether the year will close out just as strongly or die in a whimper. It’s a decidedly mixed picture right now. The positives for the tech industry are an extremely robust pipeline of unicorns and growth-stage companies as well as soaring stock prices and strong economic data encouraging investors to seek additional risk in new issues in order to drive returns. Yet, there are serious headwinds operating ...

Cisco’s $2.35 billion Duo acquisition front and center at earnings call

When Cisco bought Ann Arbor, Michigan security company, Duo for a whopping $2.35 billion earlier this month, it showed the growing value of security and security startups in the view of traditional tech companies like Cisco. In yesterday’s earnings report, even before the ink had dried on the Duo acquisition contract, Cisco was reporting that its security business grew 12 percent year over year to $627 million. Given those numbers, the acquisition was top of mind in CEO Chuck Robbins’ comments to analysts. “We recently announced our intent to acquire Duo Security to extend our intent-based networking portfolio into multi- cloud environments. Duo’s SaaS delivered solution will expand our cloud security capabilities to help enable any user on any device to securely connect to any application...

Zillow gets into the mortgage business, acquires Mortgage Lenders of America

Zillow, the publicly traded real estate portal and lead generation service, has acquired Mortgage Lenders of America. This is Zillow’s first move into originating mortgages. Until now, the company’s focus in this space was on providing home buyers with quotes from a variety of third-party lenders. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Mortgage Lenders of America (MLoA) is a privately held online lender based in Kansas. It will continue to operate as usual and will continue to appear in Zillow’s existing mortgage marketplace, which isn’t going away either. “Owning a mortgage lender will allow Zillow Group to develop new tools and partnership opportunities, including for real estate brokers with existing in-house mortgage operations or mortgage affiliates,” the company...

Washington hit China hard on tech influence this week

After months of back-and-forth negotiations, Washington moved rapidly this past week to fend off the increasing transcendence of China’s tech industry, with Congress passing expanded national security controls over M&A transactions and the Trump administration heaping more pressure on China with threats of increased tariffs. We’ve been following the reforms to CFIUS — the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States — since the proposal was first floated late last year. The committee is charged with protecting America’s economic interests by preventing takeovers of companies by foreign entities where the transaction could have deleterious national security consequences. The committee and its antecedents have slowly gained powers over the past few decades since the Korean War, b...

The Department of Justice isn’t done fighting the AT&T-Time Warner merger

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed to appeal a federal judge’s decision to approve AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Back when he was campaigning for the presidency, Donald Trump said his administration would block the deal, and indeed, the DOJ sued to stop the merger, arguing it would hurt competition. Last month, however, U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon ruled that the deal could move forward without conditions. He said from the bench, “The court has now spoken. … The defendants have won” — and the deal closed later that week. In fact, we’re already starting to see some of the fallout, with AT&T’s reported plans for Time Warner-owned HBO leading to a flurry of worried headlines in just the past couple days. The deal also seemed to set the stage for even more conso...

Netskope nabs Sift Security to enhance infrastructure cloud security

Netskope, a company that focuses on security in the cloud, announced today it has acquired Sift Security, a startup launched in 2014 to help secure cloud infrastructure services like Amazon, Microsoft and Google using machine learning. The company did not share terms of the deal, but Sift’s 10 technical employees will become part of Netskope’s 500+ person team and Sift CEO Neil King will lead the Netskope IaaS product management team moving forward. While Netskope provides comprehensive cloud and website security from a single interface, Sift uses machine learning to provide breach detection and automated response for Infrastructure as a Service environments, even across multiple clouds. Netskope founder and CEO Sanjay Beri says together the two companies can offer more security visibility...

Twitter ‘smytes’ customers

Twitter today announced it was acquiring the “trust and safety as a service” startup Smyte to help it better address issues related to online abuse, harassment, spam, and security on its platform. But it also decided to immediately shut down access to Smyte’s API without warning, leaving Smyte’s existing customers no time to transition to a new service provider. The change left Smyte’s current customer base stranded, with production issues related to the safety of their own platforms. Needless to say, many were not happy about this situation and took to Twitter to register their complaints. According to Smyte’s website, its clients included Indiegogo, GoFundMe, npm, Musical.ly, TaskRabbit, Meetup, OLX, ThredUp, YouNow, 99 Designs, Carousell, and Zendesk – big name brands that used Smyte’s ...

NXP-Qualcomm $44b deal to clear China as Trump authorizes $50b tariffs

The U.S.-China trade battle enters an important new phase. The South China Morning Post is reporting that China’s Ministry of Commerce will clear Qualcomm’s pending $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors. One independent source also conveyed the same news to TechCrunch, although there has been no official word from Qualcomm, NXP, or China at time of publication. That acquisition was expected to close months ago, but the Chinese government repeatedly delayed its assent to the deal as part of its on-going fight with the Trump administration over the future of bilateral trade. China’s ministry remained the last competition authority worldwide pending to approve the deal, and presumably it will close rapidly now that antitrust review has been completed. The news of the approval broke ju...

Court approves merger of AT&T and Time Warner

United States District Court Judge Richard J. Leon has ruled in favor of AT&T in the government’s antitrust suit to block AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner . That decision matches word on the street over the past few weeks, and delivers a stern rebuke to the Trump administration, which had opposed the deal from its earliest days. The decision was made following the close of markets in New York, and after-hours trading was muted to the decision. In light of today’s decision, Comcast, which has been eyeing its own content creator takeover of 21st Century Fox, will likely move forward with a bid as early as tomorrow. In October 2016, AT&T announced its plan to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion, and a total of $108 billion with debt. The DOJ moved to block the merger in M...

The largest buys of tech’s Big Five: a look at M&A deals

In startup land, the mandate is to get bought, go public or die trying. And, as far as getting bought goes, one of tech’s Big Five could be a desirable acquirer. They have a lot of weight to throw around. Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft account for a titanic amount of market value — close to $3.9 trillion at time of writing. At least, that’s according to Crunchbase News’s dashboard of notable tech stocks. When challenged by one another, these hulking behemoths of the tech sector more often fight than flee. And when challenged by a scrappy upstart, it is likely that they will gobble up the talent, technology and business of any aspiring competitor. It’s the circle of life. And it’s those acquisitions we’re going to look at here. Taken together,...

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