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Berkery Noyes Releases Online and Mobile Industry M&A Report For Full Year 2014

Thursday, January 08, 2015

NEW YORK — January 8, 2015 — Berkery Noyes, an independent mid-market investment bank, today released its full year 2014 mergers and acquisitions trend report for the Online and Mobile Industry. The report analyzes M&A activity in the Online and Mobile Industry during 2014 and compares it with data covering 2012 and 2013.

According to Berkery Noyes’ research, transaction volume increased 12 percent on a year-to-year basis. Aggregate deal value nearly doubled, from $66.58 billion to $126.74 billion. The median revenue multiple saw an uptick from 2.2x to 2.4x, while the median EBITDA multiple moved slightly from 12.6x to 12.0x.

The SaaS & Cloud segment experienced an 11 percent increase in volume between 2013 and 2014. It also had the highest median enterprise value multiples for the three years covered in the report at 2.9x revenue and 14.9x EBITDA, respectively.

The segment with the largest increase in volume was Communications with a 24 percent rise. Of note, four of the ten largest deals in the Communications segment involved consumer mobile applications. Three of these were messaging applications: Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19.65 billion, Rakuten’s acquisition of Viber for $900 million, and New Call Telecom’s acquisition of Nimbuzz for $175 million. Rounding out this list was Microsoft’s acquisition of email application Acompli for $200 million.

The number of transactions in the industry’s consumer mobile application subsector improved eight percent, from 217 to 234 transactions. This also represented a 40 percent gain in the subsector compared to 2012. Deals in the business-to-business mobile application subsector improved 18 percent over the previous year, from 193 to 228.

Transaction volume in the E-Commerce segment increased 16 percent in 2014. The largest deal in the E-Commerce segment was Priceline’s acquisition of online restaurant management system OpenTable for $2.4 billion. Regarding other high profile transactions in the segment, one notable deal was Adobe’s acquisition of Fotolia, a royalty-free marketplace with more than 34 million photos, images, and videos available for purchase, for $800 million. Fotolia will continue to operate as a standalone service in addition to being integrated with Adobe’s “Creative Cloud.” Meanwhile, the largest private equity backed deal in the segment in 2014 was the acquisition of Digital River for $646 million. The payment processing company and provider of “Commerce-as-a-Service” solutions was acquired by an investor group led by Siris Capital.

The E-Marketing & Search segment saw volume improve 18 percent throughout the last 12 months. The segment’s largest transaction in 2014 was Publicis Groupe SA’s acquisition of Sapient Corporation for $3.39 billion. In addition, Publicis’ acquisition of Run, a provider of mobile focused programmatic advertising technology, marked a departure from the company’s historical acquisition pattern. Although Publicis has been an active acquirer over the past several years of ad agencies that offer various technology and digital services, the acquisition of Run marks one of the first instances of the company acquiring a software provider.

Other notable deals in the E-Marketing & Search segment during the year included Alliance Data Systems’ acquisition of digital marketing business Conversant for $2.34 billion; Yahoo!’s acquisition of BrightRoll, a programmatic video advertising platform, for $640 million; Comcast’s acquisition of Freewheel, a video ad serving company utilized by TV networks and media companies, for $360 million; Facebook’s acquisition of LiveRail, a monetization platform for video publishers; as well as Twitter’s acquisitions of Tap Commerce, a mobile ad retargeting company; and Namo Media, which specializes in native mobile advertising.

“Along with strong market growth, there are movements afoot related to converging communications technologies, content distribution, advertising, search and media. This all suggests significant developments and investments ahead,” said Evan Klein, Managing Director at Berkery Noyes. “The participation of advertising agencies, global brands, and carriers in marketing programs to mobile users ranges from advertisers seeking measurable results within targeted demographics to traditional television and media companies attempting to capture new sources of revenue.” Klein continued, “The growing interest in providing a robust customer experience regardless of the platform used also has numerous software companies considering mobile plays to ensure that their capabilities extend well to that environment.”

A copy of the ONLINE AND MOBILE INDUSTRY M&A REPORT FOR FULL YEAR 2014 is available at the Berkery Noyes website.