IBM books Airbnb stay in court

IBM takes Airbnb to court, claiming the illegal use of patents, the latest in a string of suits against online companies involving historic and arguably broad innovations.
Read time 8min 40sec

The new flood of patent litigation dominated the international ICT market last week.

At home, Rob Shuter’s resignation announcement dominated the local ICT news.

Key local news of the past week

  • Very good interim figures from Cognition Holdings, with revenue up 75.1% and profit up 29.8%.
  • Satisfactory interim numbers from Metrofile, with revenue up 8% and profit up 22.1%.
  • Good year-end figures from MTN Group, with revenue up 12.7% and profit up 11.6%.
  • An interim loss from Stellar Capital Partners.
  • Dimension Data is pulling the plug on two of its biggest brands, Internet Solutions and Britehouse, in a major restructuring exercise aimed at putting the IT services group back on a solid growth footing and removing unnecessary friction and duplication.
  • Johannesburg-based contact centre and IP telephony services provider Elingo quietly closed shop last month, with the liquidated company’s employees and customers being shipped to Pivotal Data, a local customer experience and contact centre solutions company.
  • UK-based robotic process automation company Blue Prism is formalising its presence in SA with the opening of a local office in Cape Town.
  • Norwegian-based Web company Opera is set to open a data centre in SA this year.
  • Chinese smartphone brand Tecno has made its SA debut.
  • The appointments of Khalid Abdulla as executive deputy chairman of Ayo Technology; Valentine Dzvova as acting CEO of AEEI; and Gerald Naidoo as CEO of Technologiks.
  • The resignations of Khalid Abdulla, CEO of AEEI; and Rob Shuter, CEO of MTN Group (as of March 2021).

Key African news

  • Mediocre year-end figures from the Ooredoo Group.
  • Orange Digital Ventures Africa made a $1.5 million investment in Youverify, a Nigeria-based digital identity and address verification start-up.
  • The fifth submarine cable, the Djibouti Africa Region Express 1, has landed in Mombasa, Kenya, to bolster connectivity capacity within East Africa.
  • The appointment of Bassam Yousef Al Ibrahim as deputy GM of Ooredoo Algeria.
  • The departure of Ooredoo Algeria’s CEO Nikolai Beckers.

Key international news

  • Allied Motion Technologies acquired Dynamic Controls, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Invacare Corporation, a designer and manufacturer of equipment for the medical mobility and rehabilitation markets.
  • Marlin Equity Partners bought Denmark-based Heimdal Security, as well as Lifesize, a video software company, which it has merged with Serenova. Serenova is a business software company that Marlin has owned since 2015. The combined business will be headed by Lifesize CEO Craig Malloy.
  • NetApp purchased Talon Storage, a leader in next-generation software-defined storage solutions enabling global enterprises to centralise and consolidate IT storage infrastructure to the public cloud.
  • OpenText acquired XMedius, a provider of secure information exchange and unified communication solutions.

Dimension Data is pulling the plug on two of its biggest brands.

  • Accenture has agreed to buy ESR Labs, a German-based company that develops embedded software for leading German car brands and suppliers.
  • The Australian privacy regulator has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, accusing it of sharing the personal details of more than 300 000 people with Cambridge Analytica without the regulator’s knowledge.
  • Document Security Systems has entered a binding term sheet to acquire Impact Biomedical, a company engaged in the development and marketing of biohealth security technologies.
  • DXC Technology is selling off its state and local health and human services business to Veritas Capital for $5 billion.
  • Ericsson has signed an agreement to acquire Spain-based Genaker, a provider of mission-critical push-to-talk solutions.
  • NorthEdge Capital has sold Cubic Motion, a UK-based provider of digital facial animation technology, to Epic Games, a video game and software development company.
  • Nvidia has agreed to acquire SwiftStack, the provider of a data storage and management platform.
  • ST Telemedia, a unit of Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings, has taken a majority stake in CloudCover, a cloud-native service provider with a presence in India and Southeast Asia.
  • Twitter and activist hedge fund Elliott Management agreed to shake up the social media company’s board but leave CEO Jack Dorsey in place.
  • WatchGuard Technologies has agreed to purchase endpoint protection mainstay Panda Security to create a security platform that bridges the network and user perimeter.
  • Zhen Ding Technology has disclosed plans to acquire fellow Taiwan-based PCB company BoardTek Electronic.
  • ZTE, allegedly, is the subject of a new bribery investigation at the US Justice Department, centred on suspected bribes paid to foreign officials to gain advantages in its worldwide operations.
  • Silver Lake made a $1 billion investment in Twitter.
  • IBM is taking Airbnb to court over what it claims is the illegal use of four patents, the latest in a string of suits against online companies involving historic and arguably broad innovations, in a move that threatens to cast a shadow over the short-term rental company’s road to a proposed IPO.
  • Short-form streaming-video service Quibi, which is preparing to launch next month, faces claims that one of its core tech features infringes on another company’s intellectual property.
  • Israel’s NSO Group is asking a California judge to sanction Facebook for allegedly failing to abide by international law with regard to its lawsuit against the spyware maker.
  • Sharp has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against US TV brand Vizio and two others, seeking an injunction to ban one of Vizio's TV products in the US.
  • Xperi has reached an agreement with Toshiba to settle and dismiss the pending litigation between Tessera and Toshiba.
  • Very good quarterly figures from
  • Very good year-end numbers from Gresham Technologies (back in the black) and Team17.
  • Good quarterly numbers from Adobe, Allied Motion Technologies, Best (back in the black) and SMTC (back in the black).
  • Good year-end numbers from Aptitude Software, Computacentre, FDM, Informa and Network International Holdings.
  • Satisfactory quarterly results from Asure Software, Avid Technology, Magic Software and Sogue.
  • Satisfactory year-end figures from Equiniti.
  • Mediocre quarterly results from Semtech.
  • Mixed quarterly figures from Broadcom, ChipMOS Technologies, Mobile TeleSystems and Oracle, with revenue up but net income down; and from Alaska Communications and Information Services Group (back in the black), with revenue down but net income up.
  • Quarterly losses from Cloudera, CooTek, DocuSign, Domo, eMagin, Everspin Technologies, HannStar, Harte-Hanks, Identiv, Inseego, Intellicheck, Medallia, MicroVision, PAR Technology, Pinduoduo, Rimini Street, Slack,, Sonim Technologies, Synchronoss Technologies, Team, Telecom Argentina, The ExOne Company, TransAct Technologies, Volt Information Sciences and Zuora.
  • A full-year loss from Helios Towers.
  • The appointment of Kazuto Ogawa as CEO of Canon USA.
  • The resignations of Bill Gates as a director of Microsoft; and Brian Lesser, chief executive of AT&T's advertising unit Xandr.
  • The retirement of Yoroku Adachi, chairman and CEO of Canon USA.
  • A planned IPO from Chinese-headquartered IOT technology innovator RocKontrol Technology Group on China’s Nasdaq-like STAR Market.

Research results and predictions

South Africa:

  • According to InfoSource’s annual research, Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa attained the top position as market leader in the office automation industry for copiers/MFPs in Southern Africa.


  • IT spending in the MENA region will total $160 billion in 2020, an increase of 2.4% from 2019, according to Gartner.


  • According to IDC:
  • The worldwide market for wearable devices grew 82.3% in 4Q19, reaching a new high of 118.9 million devices shipped.
  • The worldwide market for PC monitors grew 5% in 4Q19. Global shipments exceeded expectations, reaching just over 33.2 million, a number last exceeded in Q414.
  • IT spending is projected to grow by 4.3% this year, reflecting a downward adjustment, which is down from the 5% forecast in January.
  • Worldwide revenue in the combined consumer and enterprise wireless local area network market segments declined 6.5% in 4Q19 and fell 3.9% for the full year. The enterprise segment grew revenue 1.5% year-over-year in 4Q19 to reach $1.7 billion and 1.8% for the full year 2019, reaching $6.2 billion.
  • The worldwide Ethernet switch market (layer 2/3) recorded $7.6 billion in revenue in 4Q19, a decline of 2.1%. For the full year 2019, the market recorded $28.8 billion in revenue for a year-on-year growth rate of 2.3%. Meanwhile, the worldwide total enterprise and service provider router market recorded $4.2 billion in revenue in 4Q19, a decrease of 7.7%. For the full year 2019, the router market finished at $15.5 billion, essentially staying flat with an increase of 0.4% over 2018.
  • Vendor revenue in the worldwide server market grew 7.5% year-on-year to $25.4 billion during 4Q19. Worldwide server shipments grew 14% year-on-year to just over 3.4m units.
  • Global spending on enterprise external OEM storage systems declined 0.1% year-on-year to $7.9 billion during 4Q19. Total external OEM storage capacity shipments were up 9.4% to 21.2 exabytes during the quarter. Revenue generated by the group of original design manufacturers (ODMs) selling directly to hyperscale data centres grew rapidly at 38.2% year-over-year, to $6.5 billion in 4Q19, while capacity shipped increased 64.5% year-on-year to 70.8 exabytes. Total capacity shipments for the market (external OEM + ODM direct + server-based storage) grew 30.8% to 120.2 exabytes.

Stock market changes

  • JSE All share index: Down 15.1%
  • FTSE100: Down 17%
  • DAX: Down 20%
  • NYSE (Dow): Down 10.4%
  • S&P 500: Down 8.8%
  • Nasdaq: Down 8.2%
  • Nikkei225: Down 16%
  • Hang Seng: Down 8.1%
  • Shanghai: Down 4.8%

Look out for


  • Vista Equity Partners selling Infoblox, a provider of IT automation and security software, which it acquired for a reported $1.6 billion in 2016.
  • Magic Leap, an augmented reality start-up, exploring options including a sale.

South Africa:

  • Further ‘rationalisation’ at Dimension Data.

Final word

Fortune magazine has published its 2020 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Included are:

  • 2: Ultimate Software (was number eight)
  • 4: Cisco (was number six)
  • 5: Workday (was four)
  • 6: (was two)
  • 11: Intuit (was 24)
  • 27: Nvidia (was 38)
  • 30: HubSpot (was 64)
  • 35: Adobe (was 22)
  • 41: Accenture (was 61)
  • 42: T-Mobile US (was 49)
  • 48: Red Hat (was 50)
  • 51: Pluralsight (new entry)
  • 52: Kronos (was 78)
  • 59: SAP America (was 28)
  • 61: SAS Institute (was 60)
  • 63: Dropbox (was 42)
  • 64: Comcast NBCUniversal (was 71)
  • 71: Box (was 93)
  • 82: Cadence (was 73)
  • 84: Nutanix (new entry)
  • 85: Atlassian (was 70)
  • 96: World Wide Technology (was 56)

Activision Blizzard, Alliance Data Systems and Workiva have dropped out of the list.

See also