IT Acquisitions 2010: Who Bought What?

The past year was a busy one for mergers and acquisitions in the tech world. While all technology companies continuously evaluate whether to build or acquire new technology assets, many decided to buy their way into new markets in 2010.

Top Deals Announced in 2010

The biggest deal by value announced during 2010 came in April. The third- and fifth-place U.S. telecom carriers announced their intention become one company in a deal that was valued at $22.4 billion. The proposed deal will serve to reshape the telecom industry, giving CenturyLink an expanded footprint and scale as consolidation in the sector continues.

In August, chip maker Intel announced its intention to acquire security vendor McAfee in a deal valued at $7.7 billion. The deal could lead to a new generation of embedded security.

“We believe that security will be most effective when enabled in hardware,” Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini said at the time. “Joining McAfee with Intel will accelerate and enhance the combination of hardware and software solutions, improving the overall security of our platforms. The bottom line is that this will better protect Internet users and their devices.”

Enterprise software vendor SAP made waves in May with its acquisition announcement of database vendor Sybase, a deal valued at $5.8 billion. The move gives SAP its own database technology as a competitive alternative to solutions from rival software vendor Oracle.

One of the most contentious acquisitions of 2010 was HP’s purchase of storage vendor 3PAR in September. Dell had initially bid $1.15 billion for 3PAR in August, which HP then countered in what became a back and forth bidding war for the storage company.

After months of speculation about the fate of Novell, privately-held software vendor Attachmate announced its intention to acquire enterprise software vendor Novell for $2.2 billion in November. While Attachmate is acquiring Novell’s business units, a portfolio of 882 patents is being sold off in a separate deal to a consortium of vendors including Microsoft, EMC, Apple and Oracle.

IBM is aiming to expand its portfolio of business intelligence and analytics offerings with the $1.7 billion acquisition of Netezza, announced in September.

“IBM is bringing analytics to the masses,” Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM’s (NYSE: IBM) Software and Systems division, said at the time.

In September, HP expanded its security portfolio with the acquisition of security-event-management vendor ArcSight in a deal valued at $1.5 billion.

“There is no overlap with the HP portfolio. We believe that this is a brand new pillar that we are adding to our software strategy,” Jonathan Martin, HP’s vice president and general manager of information management and commercial solutions, told when the deal was announced.

In April, HP announced a deal to acquire mobile technology pioneer Palm in a deal worth $1.2 billion. The move bolsters HP’s mobile strategy, and provides a much-needed lifeline for Palm, which had been on the decline in recent years as new rivals including Apple iOS and Android have emerged.

Oracle beefed up its ecommerce capabilities with the acquisition of ATG (Art Technology Group) in a deal worth $1 billion, announced in November. With the ATG technology, Oracle is aiming to combine CRM with ecommerce to deliver a more complete solution to customers.

Technology Unit Acquisitions

While there were many companies that were bought outright in 2010, the year also saw a number of big deals where units of companies were sold off.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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