Strategic buyers secure the cloud through dealmaking

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The majority of small and mid-sized businesses have yet to migrate to the cloud, which means there’s still lots of room for growth in the cybersecurity sector, and strategic buyers have been eagerly snatching up service providers.

In November, BlackBerry Ltd. (NYSE: BB) announced plans to buy Cylance for $1.4 billion. Cylance’s software is designed to protect mobile and connected devices from cyberattacks. More than 3,500 businesses use Cylance’s technology, including 20 percent of the Fortune 500. “Cylance’s leadership in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity will immediately complement our entire portfolio,” BlackBerry CEO John Chen said when the deal was announced. In recent years, BlackBerry has been diversifying to focus on more technology and software, including cybersecurity, and less on mobile devices. In 2016, the company bought cybersecurity firm Encription.

In January, Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM) acquired cybersecurity provider Janrain. The target helps protect businesses by securing their websites and social media channels. “Adding identity management to the Akamai Edge will provide an added layer of security for our customers,” said Akamai CEO Tom Leighton. “With our acquisition now complete, we can work towards providing them with a sophisticated identity management solution, enabling trusted digital experiences for their end users.”

Also in January, data protection services provider Zix Corp. (Nasdaq: ZIXI) announced it is buying AppRiver from Marlin Equity Partners for $275 million. To help fund the deal, Zix received a $100 million investment from private equity firm True Wind Capital. AppRiver serves more than 60,000 companies, offering e-mail and web protection services. “E-mail is typically the first application that gets moved to the cloud, and this acquisition puts us squarely at the beginning of our customers’ cloud migration,” Zix CEO David Wagner said.

In 2017, Zix purchased e-mail encryption provider Entelligence Messaging Server from Entrust Datacard. EMS’ encryption technology works on most major e-mail servers, including Microsoft Outlook. In that same year, Zix bought another e-mail security company called Greenview Data.

The way businesses use and exchange information is changing rapidly, not just across the cloud, but also on social media. Zix’s technology aims to make it easy for users to protect their information, Wagner pointed out. He expects Zix to remain active in seeking cybersecurity deals.

“Cybersecurity will remain a robust environment for M&A,” Wagner said. “We’re still in the early innings of cloud migration, The landscape is clear. Everything is moving to the cloud.”

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