It’s been a quiet year when it comes to tech M&A. In fact, up until this week, there had only been a handful of enterprise deals of substance. It’s unclear whether it was a lack of cash, high interest rates or buyer caution in an uncertain market, but suddenly this week, it’s as though the M&A floodgates finally opened and we started to see some movement.
The question is whether this is a momentary burst of enthusiasm, or if it’s the start of a long-awaited M&A extravaganza. Time will tell, but on Monday IBM grabbed Apptio for $4.6 billion in the most expensive deal of the week (so far); then Databricks announced it was getting MosaicML for $1.3 billion, Thomson Reuters bought Casetext for $650 million, and ThoughtSpot reeled in BI platform Mode Analytics for $200 million.
Later in the week, Visa announced it would pay $1 billion for Brazilian fintech startup Pismo.
That was a fair bit of activity for such a short period of time with a total of $7.75 billion changing hands in the process. One big reason for that is the growing enthusiasm for AI and data to fuel machine learning models. Companies are shopping for pieces that can help them build AI tooling internally, or to add as part of an existing offering. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that three of the four deals on Monday involved AI or data, driving home the point that these kinds of properties are going to be on the move in the coming months.
Certainly Databricks paying $1.3 billion for Mosaic to get a much-needed technology for its stack shows that valuations will be going up and similar startups could start to receive offers they simply can’t refuse.
Could be the start of something
Whether it’s AI, data or some other reason, Lily Lyman, general partner at Boston-based investment firm Underscore VC, thinks this could be the beginning of something more sustained than a one-day burst of activity as companies without other options start looking for buyers.