Acquisitions abound in Aussie tech: These are the businesses changing hands

Vaughan Fergusson

Vend founder Vaughan Fergusson.

There’s been a post-pandemic flurry of activity in Aussie tech, with funding rounds closing left, right and centre at the start of 2021. But, over the past few months, we’ve also been seeing more and more merger and acquisition (M&A) announcements coming through.

According to analysis from investment bank Morgan Stanley, M&A activity globally ground to a halt in early 2020, as the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic became painfully clear.

But activity picked up again in the second half of the year, and that momentum has continued into the new year.

Predictably, global M&A activity has predominantly been in sectors least affected by COVID-19, and that trend is also evident in the flurry of activity in Australia. Fintech and e-commerce — two of the buzziest sectors for startup funding at the moment — feature heavily, along with remote working and HR tools.

These are the businesses that have been acquired in the past few weeks alone:

Vend

Kiwi cloud-based retail management platform Vend has agreed to a $350 million acquisition deal from listed Canadian company LightSpeed.

Both tech platforms provide cloud-based commerce platforms for small and medium businesses, helping drive innovation and digital adoption.

In 2020, Vend generated revenue of about $34 million, a statement on the deal said. The acquisition effectively doubles LightSpeed’s customer base in the Asia Pacific region.

In a statement, Vend chief executive Ana Wight said the two companies are joining forces at a “pivotal moment in our industry”.

“We will power the global transformation of retail and pour our unparalleled collective efforts into the success of our retailers,” she added.

Neto

Elsewhere in e-commerce, Neto has been acquired by marketing tech firm Maropost, for $60 million.

The deal will see the pair combine efforts on providing sales and marketing solutions for businesses.

Where Neto offers tools helping businesses manage operations, grow customer relationships and sell products, Maropost’s Software-as-a-Service tool focuses on audience engagement and email marketing, Neto founder Ryan Murtagh said in a statement.

“Our combined functionality will provide enormous value for businesses of all sizes.”

Powered Local

Aussie wifi platform Powered Local has been acquired by self-proclaimed ‘foot traffic- generating’ platform Hownd, with the former rebranding to MyHownd Wifi and also becoming integrated with the Hownd product suite.

Hownd, based in Arizona, is designed to bring consumers into bricks and mortar businesses, by offering promotional offers to new and nearby customers through its website, social media and email channels.

Now, it will also offer shoppers access to free wifi in exchange for contact details.

“It was love at first sight for Hownd and PoweredLocal,” Hownd chief Brandon Willey said in a statement.

“PoweredLocal has built a proven process for helping local merchants collect visitor information, but the gap was always with monetising that information.”

Insync

Brisbane business Insync, a specialist in Microsoft’s workplace tech and security, has been acquired by RapidCircle, a Microsoft Cloud specialist founded out of The Netherlands and headquartered in Melbourne.

Founded in 2013, Insync has grown to a business generating some $12 million in annual revenue.

In a statement, general manager Nathan Belling said he started the company with a vision of becoming a leading Microsoft Consulting business, “attracting the best talent in the market”.

This acquisition “opens up incredible opportunities” for the business and its team, he added.

“Joining a company that has the same culture and similar core values is like a dream come true.”

Earnd

UK financial wellbeing platform Wagestream has joined the fintech party in the Aussie market, through the acquisition of advance payment startup Earnd.

The Sydney-based fintech will become a part of Wagestream’s Australian business, with all 14 team members transitioning as well.

Earnd founder Josh Vernon said in a statement it was “instantly clear” the two businesses share a similar mission in helping give consumers more control over their finances.

Peter Briffett, founder and chief of Wagestream, highlighted Earnd’s “innovative, technically impressive” technology, and suggested the acquisition could expand the reach of the product considerably.

The product, client list and local market expertise will “support our journey in scaling up to support the financial health of even more workers across the globe”, he said.

Acquisitions by Xero

And finally, New Zealand-born payroll and HR platform Xero has been splashing out itself, acquiring two European businesses in the space of just a few weeks.

Earlier this month, Xero announced it was purchasing Danish rostering business Planday for €185 million, and just this week it has revealed plans to acquire Swedish e-invoicing startup Tickstar for $22.9 million.

Chief product officer Anna Curzon reportedly said the latest acquisition is an important step in helping small businesses “digitise more of their workflows and get paid faster”.

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