The technology business week: tech M&A activity to increase this year, Facebook buys Atlas from Microsoft

4 Mar 2013

A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week.

Technology M&A activity to pick up in 2013, claims report

A review of Ireland’s merger and acquisition (M&A) market for 2012 predicts that there will be a new phase of activity in this sector over the coming years, particularly as a result of the Government’s focus on supporting tech start-ups.

William Fry has published the results of its 2012 review of Ireland’s M&A market in which it reported a steady performance despite the Eurozone slipping back into recession.

The law firm has recorded a total of 82 deals with an aggregate value of €17.1bn (up from €14.5bn in 2011) in the 2012 review.

William Fry is predicting more deal-making activity in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) space in Ireland this year.

The review said computer software companies represented the bulk of TMT businesses that were announced as being for sale in the past six months.

Facebook buys online ad business Atlas from Microsoft

Social networking giant Facebook has acquired Microsoft’s Atlas ad serving and tracking business for an undisclosed sum. Various reports suggest the price to have been less than US$100m.

Facebook is working hard to grow and expand its US$4bn online advertising business and in particular is focused on growing the revenue it gains from mobile.

The social network said Atlas’ powerful platform, combined with Facebook partners Nielsen and Datalogix, will help advertisers compare their Facebook campaigns to the rest of their ad spend across the web on desktop and mobile.

BT acquires ESPN’s Ireland and UK TV channels business

Telecoms player BT has acquired ESPN’s UK and Ireland TV channels business, giving it ownership of rights to major sporting events like the FA Cup, the UEFA Europa League, the Scottish Premier League and the German Bundesliga.

The deal will allow BT to continue to show a host of US sports currently shown on ESPN America, including NCAA College Basketball, NCAA College Football and NASCAR. The ESPN channels will be broadcast from BT Sport’s new home in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Until completion, the service for current subscribers to the ESPN channels across all television platforms remains unchanged.

Cisco acquires Intucell for US$475m

Networking equipment maker Cisco has completed its acquisition of mobile networking company Intucell for about US$475m in cash and retention-based incentives.

Under the deal, Cisco will receive a critical network intelligence layer to manage and optimise spectrum, coverage and capacity, and Intucell employees will be integrated into Cisco’s Service Provider Mobility Group, Cisco said.

Intucell, which is based in Ra’anana, Israel, is a provider of advanced self-optimising network software.

Andrew Mason is out as CEO of Groupon

The co-founder and CEO of Groupon Andrew Mason, who pretty much kickstarted the daily deals facet of e-commerce but who in recent days presided over a considerable fall in the company’s share price, has been ousted as CEO of the company.

Poor results recently failed to inspire Wall Street investors as it emerged the company was sacrificing revenues and profits to encourage merchants and shoppers to use the platform.

Although revenue increased 30pc to US$638.3m, Groupon reported an operating loss of US$12.9m in the fourth quarter 2012. Net losses amounted to US$81.1m.

The company’s stock fell by as much as 26pc at one point and as the debris cleared about a fifth of the company’s share value was obliterated.

According to Groupon, Mason will leave the role of CEO. Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and vice-chairman Ted Leonsis will fill the CEO role on an interim basis.

Yahoo! stands by its no-working-from-home rule

Internet giant Yahoo! has issued a curt response to criticism about its decision to ban telecommuting, saying the new rule is about what’s right for the company.

“This isn’t a broad industry view on working from home – this is about what is right for Yahoo! right now,” said a statement from a Yahoo! spokesperson.

The spokesperson then added that the company does not comment on internal matters.

This internal Yahoo! matter became public in the form of a leaked email recently that stated that as of 1 June, Yahoo! employees would no longer be allowed to work from home.

The news has rankled some employees who will have to either relocate or even give up their jobs.

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