Technology M&As: The Beats Go On

If it takes gangsta rap to spark fresh interest in the intersection of investment banking and technology, then so be it.

The ongoing fascination with Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics is entirely understandable, because it’s a cool story.  However, it also says a lot about what’s going on between finance and tech.

128px-Beats_by_Dr._Dre_-_logo.svg (2)On the one hand, there’s Apple, a company that’s become synonymous with innovation and raging success. It wasn’t always this way: the technology pioneer went through some serious lows, especially compared to archrival Microsoft, before reemerging as a consumer electronics giant that now has $160 billion cash on hand, nearly to be precise. And then there’s Beats, which makes audio products and offers a listening service. The company’s had some diverse owners: One is the Carlyle Group, the asset management powerhouse, whose executives have included the first President Bush, his Secretary of State James Baker, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, and a raft of financial services, business and media luminaries. But overshadowing them all is co-founder Dr. Dre, who earned early fame with gangsta rap, which of course drew the wrath of the Bush administration.

But putting aside the strange bedfellows, the high-profile deal offers a good reason to take a fresh look at the moribund investment market. To be sure, it turns the spotlight on many key elements in this market—the consumerization of IT, evolving drivers for content adoption, changing tastes expectations in key demographics and the premium placed on innovation and marketing (not always in that order).

However, as PC World points out, this is not the only silver lining in the cloud. In fact, to stretch the metaphor, cloud technology—along with software-as-a-service (SaaS) and mobile offerings—is fueling a strong drive in tech mergers and acquisitions.

The Global Technology M&A Update from EY (previously known as Ernst & Young) reveals that a curious blend of opportunity and disruption—two cornerstone elements of the tech market—came together to boost global technology M&A aggregate value by a staggering 65% in 2013. The number shot up to, $188.2 billion, which clearly hearkens back to the glory days of the dotcom bubble.

To be sure, global technology M&A volume actually declined for the year, but cloud and SaaS registered a spike—a hint as to where the future is headed. Big Data remained almost as big, with advertising and marketing technologies—packaging analytics and social networking—nudging deal volume. Security and health care IT (which often seem to go together) moved along as well. The folks in our line of work had good times too—financial services technology drove value to the tune of some 100 deals.

And while all this represents a look back, the look forward is nice too. The Apple-Beats combo aside, the first quarter of 2014 saw considerable activity in M&A circles, which is unusual for this period. The most recent report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers points to 57 deals closed in the first quarter, up by more than a third over same-period 2013. More specifically, many technology companies have not yet adapted their offerings to mobile, cloud and SaaS models, at least to the extent possible. As these pressures continue to mount, look for more wide-ranging deals to fuel technology M&As.

Any comparison to the raging market of 20 years ago—when dot-coms with no profits or even revenue received massive valuations from otherwise perceptive investment bankers—are not only premature but grossly unfair. But just as technology and finance have always boosted each other’s fortunes, it’s good to keep a wary eye on this market, even as it offers reason for optimism.

 

Image courtesy of Monster Cable Products, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

What We’re Reading: Fewer Data Breaches, M&As and Social

Below are interesting stories the Banking.com staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let us know in the comments section below or Tweet @bankingdotcom.

 

  • Data Losses Overall Are Up, But Bank Data Breaches Are Fewer: Report

American Banker

A report released by KPMG on Tuesday finds that globally, there’s been a 40% increase in the number of publicly disclosed data loss incidents in the past two years. However, financial services firms have seen an 80% decrease in number of incidents in the past five years. The improvement is a result of effort on the industry’s part, Greg Bell, global and Americas service leader for information protection at KPMG says; “Financial services organizations have done a much better job at defending themselves from cyberattack,” he says.

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  • JPM Plans ‘Organic’ Growth Through Technology, Job Cuts

American Banker

JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, on Tuesday convened its top executives to discuss its growth strategies. A major component: cutting a net 17,000 jobs over the next two years. But more notable than the job cuts, composed largely of planned attrition in JPMorgan’s consumer bank and about 15,000 cuts in its mortgage operations, was the bank’s resigned attitude about boosting business while waiting for interest rates, regulatory pressures and the overall economy to improve.

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  • What Banks Need To Know About Vendor M&As

Bank Systems & Technology

The recent Fiserv/Open Solutions and FIS/mFoundry deals suggest that the banking industry is going through another wave of vendor consolidation. In 2009, within IDC Financial Insights’ FinTech 100, we lost only two vendors through acquisition. Last year, the number doubled again to eight. The main reason continues to be that companies must increase scale in order to make money in such a competitive environment. Vendors have realized that they need to figure out how to grow organically, acquire competing or complimentary solutions, or become an acquisition target themselves.

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  • Intuit Founder: ‘Success Makes Companies Stupid’

Business Insider

Intuit’s founder, Scott Cook, believes that success can actually be dangerous to the company. At a seminar with Harvard Business School faculty, he said that “Success is a powerful thing, it tends to make companies stupid, and they become less and less innovative.” According to Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, Cook argues that companies need to adopt the lean startup model pioneered by Eric Ries. That means “launching as quickly as possible with a “minimum viable product,” a bare-bones creation that includes just enough features to allow for useful feedback from early adopters. The company then releases a quick succession of product upgrades, forming hypotheses and conducting experiments with each new version along the way.”

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  • Seven Killer Apps All Small Business Owners Should Add to Their Everyday Operation

Business 2 Community

If you don’t already know about Mint, you’ll be glad you do now. A subsidiary of Intuit (the makers of TurboTax and Quicken) Mint is a free web-based tool that manages your personal finances, provides an in-depth look at all of your expenses, and even helps set budgetary goals to help you stay on track. By organizing all of your expenses, you can keep a close eye on every penny you spend on business supplies, gas, food, utilities, etc. When your budget is limited, it’s certainly important to stay on top of your finances in order to reach your goals

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  • As Financial Firms Go Social: The Key Is Integration

Forbes.com

Actiance provides a customizable platform Socialite that firms can use to monitor social media as it is used by its advisors, and ensure that it’s compliant. “Companies are starting to realize that doing social media is not a point product,” Actiance CEO Kailash Ambwani said when asked about his expectations for 2013. “It’s something that needs to be integrated into the firm’s enterprise platform. And it requires resources, overseeing and management.”

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  • It Was A Wonderful Life: How Banks Can Revive Their Reputations

Fast Company

The banks’ Financial Trust Index remained stagnant at 28 percent for December 2012. In other words, three out of four Americans don’t trust their financial institutions. That’s a far cry from the days when public confidence sat at 75 percent–a figure that stood for more than three decades after Clarence got his wings. More specifically, Ernst & Young’s Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012 finds that the number of consumers planning to change banks grew 5 percent last year; that customers with only one bank (also known as brand loyalty) fell 10 percent last year; and that customers with three or more banks are up 11 percent from 2011.

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  • The Future Of Mobile Banking Fueled By Smartphone Cameras

The Financial Brand

The impetus for financial institutions to provide mobile remote deposit capture and mobile photo bill pay is growing. A full 58% of iPhone users finding mobile deposit desirable, and 42% of mobile bankers say they’d like to use photo bill pay. Currently, 40% of all consumers and 66% of mobile bankers find mobile RDC desirable. Another 15% want it but their financial institution doesn’t offer it. This according to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research, who also says that 64% of the top 25 retail banks in the U.S. are now offering mobile deposit.

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  • Card Networks Take On Plastic With Mobile Platforms

Wall Street Journal

The world’s largest payments networks are angling to capture more electronic transactions by eliminating plastic from the equation. Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. on Monday unveiled industry partnerships and technology systems intended to make it easier for consumers to make purchases online, on mobile devices and in physical stores without having to pull out a credit or debit card. MasterCard said its new MasterPass platform will allow cardholders to store their card information in a single software program that can be used to make payments through merchants who sign up for their service.

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What We’re Reading: Mobile Money, Outages and PFM

Below are interesting stories the Banking.com staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let us know in the comments section below or Tweet @bankingdotcom.

 

  • JPMorgan Chase Endures Website Outage

American Banker

JPMorgan Chase’s (JPM) website was shut down for some Friday, stopping bank customers from retrieving their accounts. The New York bank took to Twitter to tell customers its online banking was “experiencing intermittent issues” that the company was working to resolve. The outage endured for a few hours, bank spokesman Tom Kelly told American Banker. “We’re back to normal response times now,” Kelly said. JPMorgan Chase is researching the cause of the outage, Kelly said.

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  • Moven From Mobile Banking to Mobile Money

Bank Marketing Strategy

February is definitely a pivotal month for the start-up previously known as Movenbank, having changed its name to Moven, winning the best of show honors at Finovate Europe and gearing up for a February 25 closed beta launch of its mobile-optimized financial services application. Similar to Simple, while not having a banking charter, Moven provides a unique customer experience interface with a traditional banking organization working in the background (with banking licenses, FDIC insurance, etc.).

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  • A Look At What Citi Is Doing With Online Platform

Credit Union Journal

After Forrester Research dubbed Citi’s online banking site the best in the U.S. recently, Tracey Weber, Citigroup’s head of internet and mobile banking and Bank Technology News’ Mobile Banker of the Year for 2012, spoke about the bank’s latest initiatives. The developers made the site simpler, cleaner, and easier to navigate, she says. “We elevated a lot of the quick tasks that you do on a regular basis, like paying a bill, without having to continually have to find your way back to the dashboard. We also integrated PFM and account integration into the dashboard.” Citi partners with Yodlee for PFM and account aggregation.

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  • Four Common Misjudgments About Whether Consumers Want PFM

Javelin Strategy & Research Blog

There is a spirited conversation occurring in a Personal Finance Management subgroup on LinkedIn, spurred by Mary Wisniewski’s column in American Banker about how “PFM Defies Definition.” The heart of the discussion points to the growing awareness that PFM must break free from the 1980s definition of budgeting and investment tools for do-it-yourself PC enthusiasts with a masochistic delight for details, tracking, and quantitative analysis. The financial services industry makes a number of fundamental mistakes in their thinking and approach to PFM.

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  • Banks to spend $118B on tech, mobile banking in 2013

Mobile Payments Today

Retail banks worldwide will increase their IT spending by 3.4 percent this year — to a total of $118.6 billion. Industry analysts at Ovum predict that spending in Asia will rise 5.1 percent, followed by North America at 3.3 percent, and Europe at 1.8 percent. In a new business trends report, Ovum said that mobile banking would be a “clear IT investment priority in 2013.” The company suggested that total spending for online channels — including online and mobile browser-based services — will grow by 6.2 percent in 2013.

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  • More Than 12 Million Identity Fraud Victims in 2012 According to Latest Javelin Strategy & Research Report

PYMNTS.com

The 2013 Identity Fraud Report released today by Javelin Strategy & Research reports that in 2012 identity fraud incidents increased by more than one million victims and fraudsters stole more than $21 billion, the highest amount since 2009. The study found 12.6 million victims of identity fraud in the United States in the past year, which equates to 1 victim every 3 seconds. The report also found that nearly 1 in 4 data breach letter recipients became a victim of identity fraud, with breaches involving Social Security numbers to be the most damaging. Over the past year, companies are responding more quickly which means a consumer’s information is being misused for fewer days than ever before, and the mean cost per victim has been flattening.

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  • Finance and the American poor: Margin calls

The Economist

In December the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) released a survey that found roughly one in 12 American households, or some 17m adults, are “unbanked”, meaning they lack a current or savings account. The survey also found that one in every five American households is “underbanked”, meaning that they have a bank account but also rely on alternative services–typically, high-cost products such as payday loans, cheque-cashing services, non-bank money orders or pawn shops. Not all the unbanked are poor, nor do all poor people lack bank accounts. But the rate of the unbanked among low-income households (defined in the FDIC survey as those with an annual income below $15,000) is more than three times the overall rate.

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  • Mobile Banking Now Vital To Customer Acquisition

The Financial Brand

A survey recently fielded on FindABetterBank uncovered that 88% of shoppers who said mobile banking is a “must have” feature are already mobile banking users. Therefore, as more consumers download their bank’s mobile apps and begin using them, you can expect the number of consumers demanding mobile banking when they’re shopping for a new institution to increase steadily. Few people, however, defect from an institution simply because mobile banking isn’t offered.

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  • Every company now a digital business

ZDNet

The convergence of social media, mobile computing, analytics and the cloud is transforming the way businesses operate. Companies that adopt available technologies to “go digital” will be better positioned to take advantage of rapidly shifting business opportunities and leap ahead of the competition, according to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2013 report. Since technology is now core to virtually every aspect of a business, every company is a digital business and all senior leaders–not just CIOs–must be able to understand, embrace and drive value from new technologies that affect their organizations, it added.

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