Did Facebook try to ‘buy or bury’ rivals?

The US Federal Trade Commission and nearly every US state have filed antitrust lawsuits against Facebook, accusing it of using a ‘buy or bury’ strategy to snap up rivals and keep smaller competitors at bay.
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December was dominated by a raft of acquisitions, proposed acquisitions and several IPOs.

South African highlights

  • Adumo acquired Wirecard Solutions SA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wirecard Technologies, a German payment processor and financial services provider that entered into insolvency in 2020.
  • Workforce Holdings bought OpenSource Intelligent Solutions and OpenSource International, SAP specialists, for R24.2 million.
  • Bytes Technology has listed on the LSE and JSE.
  • Itouch, a provider of the Inventa AI-based sustainable data discovery and management platform for privacy, security and governance, and Corr-Serve, a pan-African distributor of security, performance and governance solutions, today announced a distribution agreement to offer South African enterprises best-in-class solutions for automated data discovery and classification.
  • The shares of Prosus will be listed on the A2X market.

African highlights

  • Vodafone has ended talks with the Saudi Telecom Company on the $2.4 billion sale of its 55% shareholding in Vodafone Egypt.
  • The announcement of new CEOs/VPs etc at Citrix Systems, DZS, HP Africa, Liquid Telecom Nigeria, MTN Central and West Africa, and Seacom.

International highlights

  • Alphabet/Google acquired Dataform, a UK start-up that was building what it dubbed an ‘operating system’ for data warehouses; and it is also buying Actifio, a data management company that helps companies with data continuity to be better prepared in the event of a security breach or other need for disaster recovery. It has won EU antitrust approval for its $2.1 billion bid for Fitbit after agreeing to restrictions on how it will use customers' health-related data.
  • Aspen Technology bought OptiPlant, a leading provider of AI-driven 3D conceptual design and engineering automation software.
  • Avalara purchased Impendulo, a London-based provider of insurance tax compliance solutions.
  • Cognizant acquired Inawisdom, a UK-based, privately held consultancy specialising in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics.
  • Enghouse Systems bought Portugal-based Altitude Software, a company that provides omnichannel contact centre solutions for small and large organisations, with a focus on the BPO market segment.
  • Facebook purchased Kustomer, a start-up specialising in customer-service platforms and chatbots, for $1 billion; and has accused Apple of engaging in anticompetitive practices, firing another shot in a months-long standoff between the two tech giants over Apple's planned privacy changes for iOS14.
  • Fortinet acquired Panopta, the SaaS platform innovator that provides full stack visibility and automated management of the health of an enterprise network, including servers, network devices, containers, applications, databases, virtual appliances and cloud infrastructure.
  • Hyundai bought Softbank’s Boston Dynamics, a robot maker ($1.1 billion).
  • IBM purchased Expertus Technologies, a Canadian end-to-end digital payments solution provider. IBM has also agreed to buy Nordcloud, a European leader in cloud implementation, application transformation and managed services.
  • Lightspeed acquired Upserve, a provider of restaurant management software ($430 million).
  • NuWave Solutions bought BigBear, which provides analytics to the national security community.
  • Quantum purchased Square Box Systems, a specialist in data cataloguing, user collaboration and digital asset management software.
  • Quest Software acquired Switzerland-based Quadrotech, a technology company specialising in powerful, highly scalable Office 365 migration and management solutions.

China has launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba Group.

  • Roblox bought Imbellus, a developer of simulation-based cognitive assessments designed to be an alternative to standardised testing; it also bought, a start-up providing real-time facial animation technology for 3D avatars.
  • Sirius Computer Solutions purchased Champion Solutions Group in a deal that brings its surging MessageOps practice to one of the largest solution providers in the country.
  • Sykes Enterprises’ subsidiary Clearlink acquired Taylor Media, the owner of The Penny Hoarder, an independent personal finance digital media company whose mission is delivering financial empowerment.
  • WarnerMedia, a unit of AT&T, bought You.i TV, which offers technology to build video apps for mobile, streaming and gaming devices.
  • Xilinx purchased Falcon Computing Solutions, a privately held provider of high-level synthesis compiler optimisation technology for hardware acceleration of software applications.
  • Taiwan-based Aces Electronics will acquire US-based Genesis Technology USA and Genesis Holding, providers of high-speed and high-power connector and cable product lines and technologies.
  • Airoha Technology, a MediaTek subsidiary, will acquire IC Plus, a specialist in Bluetooth IC and other networking chips.
  • will buy Wondery, a podcast start-up.
  • Amphenol will purchase MTS Systems, a global supplier of advanced test systems, motion simulators and precision sensors ($1.7 billion).
  • Apax Partners is set to buy 3i Infotech’s software business ($136 million).
  • Apollo Global Management will buy International Game Technology’s Italian B2C gaming machine, sports betting and digital gaming businesses; and, in conjunction with Hudson Executive Capital, Cardtronics, the world’s largest ATM owner/operator ($2.3 billion).
  • Atos has reached an agreement to acquire Motiv ICT Security, the largest independent managed security services provider in the Netherlands.
  • An Australian regulator is suing Facebook, accusing it of collecting user data without permission, thus building on government efforts around the world to rein in the social network.
  • Avalara has entered into a definitive agreement to buy INPOSIA Solutions, a German software company focused on e-invoicing, digital tax reporting and business and data integration to address real-time compliance requirements for companies worldwide.
  • Axell Wireless, a UK-based antenna systems specialist, has gone into administration.
  • Blackstone has agreed to buy a majority stake in Liftoff, a provider of a software platform for mobile app makers ($400 million).
  • BT and TIM have signed a preliminary agreement for the acquisition of selected BT business units in Italy.
  • The Czech Republic’s top Web search platform has claimed $416.74 million in damages from Google, saying it has restricted competition.
  • China has launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba Group.
  • Cisco has agreed to buy London-based IMImobile, a cloud communications software company ($730 million); Slido, the Slovakian company behind a tech platform used to interact with audiences during live video meetings and events; and plans to buy privately held Dashbase for its logs and events analytics skills.
  • Concentrix has completed its separation from SYNNEX and is now an independent, publicly traded company listed on Nasdaq.
  • Ericsson has filed a lawsuit in the US against Samsung in a dispute over royalty payments and patent licences.
  • A federal judge has dismissed Apple’s copyright infringement claims against a Florida start-up whose software helps security researchers find vulnerabilities in Apple products, including the iPhone.
  • An Elbit Systems subsidiary has signed a definitive agreement with an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management for the acquisition of Sparton, a premier developer, producer and supplier of electronic systems.
  • Electronic Arts has reached an agreement to buy Codemasters in a deal worth $1.2 billion, trumping an earlier agreement between the British company and rival Take-Two Interactive Software.
  • Federal regulators are ordering Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, TikTok’s parent and five other social media companies to provide detailed information on how they collect and use consumers’ personal data and how their practices affect children and teens.
  • Francisco Partners has executed a definitive agreement with CDK Global to acquire CDK’s International business segment, a leading provider of automotive retail software solutions in EMEA and Asia ($1.45 billion).
  • GoDaddy has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Poynt, a company that offers a complete suite of products needed for small businesses to sell and accept payments anywhere – spanning point-of-sale (POS) systems, payments, invoicing, loyalty and rewards programmes, and transaction management.
  • Google and digital advertising firms are the targets of fresh privacy complaints filed in six EU countries over the way they sell ads to potential advertisers through a bidding process; and that the former is being sued by 38 US states, accused of trying to make its search engine as dominant inside cars, TVs and speakers as it is in smartphones.
  • GlobalWafers has agreed to acquire German silicon wafer manufacturer Siltronic ($4.53 billion).
  • Honeywell has agreed to buy Sparta Systems, a provider of quality management software ($1.3 billion).
  • The Institute of Industry Analyst Relations, a not-for-profit member influencer relations association, has named IDC as its Analyst Firm of the Year 2020.
  • Italy’s antitrust authority has fined Apple €10 million for “aggressive and misleading” commercial practices regarding its iPhones.
  • Juniper Networks has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Apstra, a leader in intent-based networking and automated closed loop assurance.
  • From a technology perspective in Nasdaq’s annual shuffle of its Nasdaq 100 index, Atlassian, Marvell Technology Group and Okta have been added to the index, while Citrix Systems, Liberty Global and Take Two Interactive Software have been removed.
  • Platinum Equity Partners has agreed to buy Ingram Micro ($7.2 billion).
  • Social network firm Reddit is buying short-video platform Dubsmash, becoming the latest company to expand in a space dominated by Chinese-owned TikTok.
  • S&P Global has agreed to acquire IHS Markit for about $44 billion, a landmark deal that would combine two of the largest providers of data to Wall Street.
  • has agreed to acquire Slack Technologies, a workplace messaging app provider ($27.7 billion).
  • ServiceNow has signed an agreement to acquire Element AI, a leading artificial intelligence company with deep AI capabilities and some of the world's brightest AI minds.
  • Stratasys has signed an agreement to purchase Origin, a 3D printing start-up ($100 million).
  • Tech giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Google face fines of up to 6% of their revenue if they do not purge illegal content published on their platforms, according to draft regulations the European Union has proposed.
  • Texas and nine other states are suing Google, accusing it of working with Facebook in an unlawful manner that violated antitrust law to boost its already dominant online advertising business.
  • Thoma Bravo is buying a majority stake in machine identity management software provider Venafi; and has agreed to acquire RealPage, a global provider of software and data analytics to the real estate industry ($10.2 billion).
  • Toscafund will buy Talk Talk, a UK mobile operator (£1.1 billion).
  • Twitter is buying Squad, a screen-sharing social app, and planning to shut down its Periscope mobile app by March 2021.
  • The TZP Group has acquired Awareness Technologies, a provider of security, monitoring, forensic, data loss prevention, productivity and analytics software.
  • The US Federal Trade Commission and nearly every US state have filed antitrust lawsuits against Facebook, saying it used a ‘buy or bury’ strategy to snap up rivals and keep smaller competitors at bay.
  • Veritas Capital has agreed to buy Northrop Grumman’s federal IT and mission support services unit ($3.4 billion).
  • Vista Equity Partners has agreed to make a majority investment in Gainsight, a developer of customer service software ($1.1 billion) and Pluralsight, the provider of an IT education platform ($3.5 billion).
  • Passive components maker Walsin Technology will acquire shares in Japanese components vendor Soshin Electric.
  • Vodafone will buy out Kabel Deutschland minority shareholders.
  • Wipro is taking over the IT operations of German food services firm Metro in a $700 million deal.
  • Yahoo Finance has named Zoom Video Communications as its company of the year.
  • A consortium has invested $222 million in UK-based AI chipmaker Graphcore.
  • Insight Partners invested in CommerceHub, an e-commerce platform, and Wiz, the developer of a cloud security platform.
  • Thoma Bravo invested in Flexera, the company that helps organisations turn technology into a competitive advantage whether they make it or use it; and in Zipari, the company behind the consumer experience platform built specifically for health insurance.
  • Insight Partners led investments in Bizzaboo, a developer of software for events that can be held virtually, in person, or through a combination of the two; OneTrust, a cyber security company; LeanTaaS, a creator of analytics software that helps healthcare organisations provide care at lower costs; and SingleStore, a data analytics platform that helps businesses centralise operations in real-time.
  • The announcement of new CEOs at 8x8, Communications Systems, NTT, Nutanix, ON Semiconductor, SolarWinds, ViacomCBS Networks, Vodafone UK and Zensar.
  • The deaths of Bill Coleman, co-founder of BEA, a middleware company, and a former CEO of Veritas; Gerry Cohen, founder and chairman of Information Builders; Dave Ducks, a former president and COO, co-chairman and vice-chairman of Ingram Micro; and Lin Qi, CEO of Yoozoo Games.
  • IPO filings by CloudWalk Technology, a Chinese AI company that develops facial recognition solutions (China’s Nasdaq-like STAR market); Longsys Electronics, a memory module firm (Shenzhen), SAP’s Qualtrics International, a survey-software seller (Nasdaq); and UiPath, a developer of robotic process automation software (USA).
  • IPOs on Nasdaq from ContextLogic, Luminar Technologies, PubMatic and Upstart Holdings.
  • An IPO on the NYSE from

Stock market changes

JSE All share index: Up 2.7% (highest weekend close of 2020 during this period)

  • FTSE100: Up 1.5%
  • DAX: Up 2.9%
  • NYSE (Dow): Up 2.3% (an all-time high reached during this period)
  • S&P 500: Up 3.2% (an all-time high reached during this period)
  • Nasdaq: Up 5.6% (an all-time high reached during this period)
  • Nikkei225: Up 3% (highest weekend close of 2020 during this period)
  • Hang Seng: Up 1.3%
  • Shanghai: Up 1.9% (highest weekend close of 2020 during this period)
See also