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IT Industry News for December 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on January 11th, 2020

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for December 2020. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Decembers …

Five years ago, in December 2015 M&A was quiet but there was some interesting activity.  The big deal saw Canadian telco Shaw make a big play into the cellular space with its proposed acquisition (subsequently approved) of Wind for $1.6 billion.  Meanwhile Rogers was also out shopping and growing its Maritimes presence through the acquisition of Internetworking Atlantic Inc.  Other deals in December were not large but did feature some of the big players.  Oracle bought Stackhouse a cloud company with a specialization in “containers”; IBM boosted its video in the cloud capabilities with the purchase of Clearleap; and Microsoft picked up a mobile communications company, Talko.  Other deals saw Ingram Micro buy the Odin Service Automation business from Parallels and in the storage world Carbonite bought Evault from Seagate.

Four years ago in December 2016 Adecco sold its majority stake in Beeline VMS to GTRC, a Uber logoprivate equity firm, for $100 million in cash plus a $30 million note; CRN solution provider SS&C purchased asset service firm Conifer for $88.5 million; solution provider QRX Technology Group acquired IT equipment provider Kerr Norton; networking solution provider, Juniper Networks acquired cloud operations management provider AppFormix; Uber bought start-up Geometric Intelligence Inc.; and Shopify acquired Tiny Hearts, a Toronto-based mobile product development studio.

December 2017 saw Atos enhance the footprint of their IT Services firm by paying $5 The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itbillion for Gemalto.  Apple were busy, paying $400 million for music recognition app Shazam, plus they invested $390 million into optical communications components company Finisar.  Finally, in a relatively quiet M&A month Ingram Micro increased its data protection capability through the purchase of Cloud Harmonics.

Two years ago, in December 2018 IBM sold off a portion of their software portfolio to HCL for $1.8 billion.  Cisco paid $660 million for optical chip company, Luxtera; and OpenText paid $310 million for data management company Liaison Technologies.  In other deals, Google bought “where is my train” app company, Sigmoid Labs; Corel bought desktop virtualization company Parallels; Trello bought Butler, whose product is a popular addition for Trello users; Kaseya bought IT documentation company IT Glue; and GE continued its restructuring efforts by spinning out its IoT subsidiary and selling its interest in Pivotal.  Finally the end of December was the beginning of Dell’s return as a public company.

Last year, December 2019 saw some big dollar deals in the M&A world with the biggest Intel logoseeing LogMeIn sold to private equity for $4.3 billion.  Intel shelled out $2 billion for AI chip company Habana Labs; and F5 Networks paid $1 billion for Shape Security.  In other deals Solarwinds paid $175 million for VividCortex; NTT picked up AWS company Flux7; Fortinet bought Cybersponse; CheckPoint Software bought security company Protego; Acronis bought security company 5nine and Opswat bought cyber security company Impulse.

Which brings us back to the present …

 In December 2020 the pandemic continues to dominate news, and with vaccines approved and beginning to roll out there is cause for some optimism but that Is going to take time.  Meanwhile increasing spread, and mutated strains of the virus are causing concerns.  When coupled with the current political upheaval in the US, small positive economic and job data indicators are not great indicators of where the economy really stands.  Lockdowns are only going to continue and the impact on small businesses continues to be devastating.  It remains to be seen what happens in the US and what the fallout will be on the markets and the economy in general.

It was an active month in M&A and some very big deals were announced.  The $27.7 billion Salesforce logoacquisition of collaboration software company Slack, by Salesforce was certainly an eye opener;  Platinum Equity paid $7.2 billion for Ingram Micro; Self driving startup Aurora is paying reputedly $4 billion for Uber’s Advanced Tech Group; and Google is reputedly paying $1 billion for data protection company Actifio.

There were a lot more deals too. Hyundai’s robotics arm paid $921 million for Boston Cisco logoDynamics, owner of Spot, the robot;  Cisco bought two companies, paying $730 million for contact center as a service company IMImobile and also picking up audience interaction tech company Slido; NortonLifeLock paid $360 million for cybersecurity company Avira; And Facebook is buying customer relationship management company Kustomer.

There were some other big names out buying, including ServiceNow picking up Canadian IBM logodarling AI company Element AI; IBM bought another Canadian company in the Fintech space, Expertus; Juniper Networks bought a startup, in the network space, Apstra ; Fortinet bought network tools company Panopta; RingCentral picked up AI comms company DeepAffects; Storage company Quantum bought media storage company Square Box Systems; and Goldman Sachs bought fraud detection system White Ops.

Cybersecurity continues to a be big news, with McAfee suggesting losses from cyber crime in 2020 were $945 billion, doubling the amount in just two years.  The breach of FireEye by a “state sponsored” hacker does little to help, given this was essentially a case of the best of the best being breached!

That’s my look at the tech industry for December 2020. The full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website.   Until next month Walk Fast and Smile … don’t forget to be safe, wear a mask, wash your hands and socially distance.  We will get through this together!   Let’s hope for a much better year in 2021.

Regional Job Market Update for Vancouver (January 2021)

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Ea
gle
Downtown Vancouver Sunset
Downtown Vancouver Sunset” by Magnus Larsson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Vancouver’s economy and labour market has gone through much the same challenges and cycles as that of other Canadian provinces over the past year.  With trade barriers thrown up by the US last year, government spending impacted by reduced revenues and emergency spending/measures, housing prices falling dramatically, and BC’s large travel industry being hammered by COVID accommodations, it is no wonder that last year was a difficult one.  However, BC also benefits from a burgeoning high-tech industry — a sector of the economy that actually benefitted from the health issues of 2020.  This sector helped to lessen the blow overall and helps to set up the province and its largest city for a nice recovery.

Due to changing conditions across the board, BC is set to enjoy a Canada-leading rebound in 2021.  According to the  Business Intelligence for BC website, the unemployment rate is expected shrink to 6.5% this coming year (from 7.5% in 2020), to become one of the lowest of all provinces in Canada.  And GDP is to expand 5.6% vs last year, again, more than what is forecast for any other province.  Demand for housing, a strong underlying economic indicator, is forecasted to be strong, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. In fact, the Canadian Real Estate Association predicts that home prices are set to rebound strongly, growing by 9% this coming year.  As well, TD Bank Economists expect that government stimulus will make a big impact this coming year.  In addition to the Federal Gov’ts pledge to provide $70 – $100 billion in fiscal spending (across Canada), the BC Gov’t is expected to invest $2 billion in new spending and contingencies in 2021.  All this, along with more favorable trading terms expected with the United States and some return to normal travel helping both the tourism and hospitality industries, BC and Vancouver are set up for a very strong economic rebound this year.

Most of the economic benefits are expected to be seen over the final 6 to 8 months of the year as COVID accommodations are relaxed in lock step with the availability of the new vaccines.  That said, businesses and industries are planning for these coming benefits now and this is beginning to drive additional demand for information technology knowledge workers.  BC has already replaced over 90% of the jobs lost during the worst of the downturn last year (source: TD Bank Economists) and, as such, it is expected that knowledge workers of every stripe will be in shorter supply; perhaps no industry impacted as much as the IT industry that had already been somewhat insulated from the worst of 2020 economic impacts.

Demand for Eagle’s staffing services were relatively strong throughout December of 2020. December is typically a slower month given year-end, vacations and holidays, but January is expected to be red-hot and, even during these first few days of January, requirements have been strong.  Vancouver has always been rather steadfast as far as swings in contractor rates go.  Never being the highest in Canada, but seldom being the lowest, 2021 may challenge this trend.  Human resources (IT workers) that are experts in specialty roles in such areas as Cloud, Security, eCommerce, and Machine Learning/AI /Data Science will be harder to find and the expectations are that rates will increase over the coming year.  Whereas roles in areas such as infrastructure, server, raised floor, networking, and application management are likely to have rates remain mostly unchanged.  Experts who can build business /customer understanding, better insight, and drive scalable and secure efficiency will be in highest demand and earn the highest rates increases.

On a micro-level, the following are some of the hiring trends that Eagle is witnessing:

  • The level of experience demanded from our clients is higher, typically senior resources with solid project and/or domain knowledge.
  • We are being asked for more specialists than generalists. This is different from the “bottom” of the economic cycle, where our clients were seeking people who were generalists and could wear multiple hats and “keep the lights on”.  Today, our customers tend to ask for people who have expertise in a certain area and can go deep, delivering value to new projects.
  • There appears to be a balance between technical and functional roles. Demand is rising for both.
  • The “type” of technology being implemented is leading-edge vs. mainstream, with many cloud and AI projects and supporting business transformation initiatives. (although most organizations had to move their business transformation initiatives up earlier than they might have wanted to support work from home, etc. in 2020)
  • Contract hiring activity was slow-paced last year, but is now picking up its speed-to-hire. This will become critical as the market heats up this year. Companies who are slow to make hiring decisions will lose top candidates to others who are motivated to hire quickly.
  • As mentioned above, last year saw some downward pressure on contractors’ rates. This year we expect this to rebound. How far and how fast depends on the speed with which the economy rebounds.  All indications are that the economy is in for a strong improvement; rates will tend to follow.
  • Hiring organizations are more open to remote workers. This is a direct impact of the COVID accommodations that the entire world had to manage.  Companies have learned how to operate effectively using people working remotely from one another.  Organizations are able to cast a wider net for talent by adopting a work-from-anywhere approach.
  • Finally, we are seeing a change whereby job seekers are more active. People have been hunkered down, happy to have a stable position (if they were working through 2020).  These people were not looking to make a move, afraid of jumping from the frying pan into the fire!  This is rapidly changing as opportunities begin again to expand.  People are open again to considering new opportunities that will allow them to learn new skills and/or advance their careers.

All in all, 2021 appears to be highly promising for BC, Vancouver, and the IT industry as a whole as we bounce back from the impact of the slowdowns of this past year.

Regional Job Market Update for Calgary, Alberta (December 2020)

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Regional Job Market Update for Calgary, AlbertaMuch like everywhere else in the world, Calgary’s economic recovery hinges on COVID-19 spread, as well as the availability of vaccines to finally put the pandemic behind us. If that weren’t enough of a challenge, our city’s recovery also depends on reasonable global oil prices, which could quickly be impacted by ongoing disputes in the Middle East over production levels.

Calgary’s unemployment rate is currently sitting at 10.4% and the economic data that is rolling in suggests that the path to recovery will be prolonged. It will most likely take a couple of years to build back what has been lost. 

While we are expecting COVID-19 to leave a lasting mark on the labour market and a long, slow recovery, we are starting to trend in the right direction.  

  • The number of job orders coming into our Calgary office is nearing where it was at the beginning of 2020.
  • While contract rates fell in some job categories in the early days of the pandemic, rates have been holding steady for the past 5-6 months.
  • Companies across the country have adapted well to remote work. As such, there is a greater appetite for remote workers and the job market for Calgarians is becoming more national in scale. Many local consultants are taking advantage of this to keep their skills current while the local market continues to recover.
  • The unemployment rate for IS careers typically runs a few percentage points below the general average, so we are closer to “a balanced labourmarket” than what it may look like in the government labour 

Demand for technical resources with specialized skills continues to remain high. In particular, demand is highest for: 

  • Software Developers
  • Data Engineers
  • Systems Analysts.

We are regularly seeing multiple offer scenarios across these categories. If you anticipate needing technical resources in the near future, our advice is simple. A quick and efficient hiring process and quick action will result in better outcomes. We are seeing far too many clients losing out on their first-choice talent because they are not making decisions fast enough. 

At the moment, there is currently an oversupply of talent in functional and leadership roles, but we expect this labour market imbalance to be temporary. Many of our clients are looking forward to new IT budgets and approved projects, as well as pent up demand and a better understanding of how to work and thrive in this new world.  

As we look forward to a very different and quieter holiday season, many of us are looking forward to bidding farewell to 2020. While 2021 may not offer a lot of quick fixes to the challenges that we face, there is light at the end of the tunnel and things are already looking up. 

IT Industry News for November 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on December 7h, 2020

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for November 2020. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Novembers …

Five years ago, November 2015 saw Expedia pay $3.9 billion for HomeAway as a vehicle to better compete with Airbnb.  Zayo Holding Group became the first foreign company to own The apple logo and apple with a bite out of ita Canadian telco after paying $465 million for Allstream.  Other, smaller deals saw Apple buy Faceshift, a motion capture company whose technology was used in a Star Wars movie; and Lightspeed POS bought SEOshop, increasing its size as a competitor to Shopify.  Other deals saw Ingram Micro grow its Brazilian presence with the purchase of ACAO; PCM bought Edmonton-based services firm Acrodex; Data centre company CentriLogic bought infrastructure company Advanced Knowledge Networks; solution provider Scalar Systems bought another Toronto company, professional services firm Eosensa; and Washington-based New Signature bought Toronto-based Microsoft Partner, Imason.

In November 2016, Broadcom acquired Brocade Communication Systems for $5.9 billion; Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseAdobe purchased multi-channel programmatic video platform TubeMogul for $540 million; IT services and outsourcing provider Wipro Limited bought IT cloud consulting firm Appirio for $500 million; Oracle announced its plans to acquire DNS solution provider, Dyn Inc.; SoftwareOne acquired and integrated House of Lync; and Avnet completed an acquisition of Hackster.

Three years ago, in November 2017, the big M&A activity for the month saw investment firm Thoma Bravo pay $1.6 billion for Barracuda networksMcAfee also made an acquisition, Skyhigh Networks which used to be an Intel company.  Smaller deals saw Talend buy Restlet and Qualys buy Netwatcher.

November 2018 was a busy month in the M&A space, with lots of action!  The largest deal saw SAP shell out $8 billion for experience management company Qualtrics.  Not far behind was Commscope paying $7.4 billion for telecommunication equipment maker Arris.  Vista Equity partners paid $1.94 billion for cloud software company Apptio; and private equity fund CVC paid $1.8 billion for a global IT and managed services provider, ConvergeOne Holdings.  The final billion-dollar deal saw Blackerry make its largest acquisition to date, paying $1.4 billion for AI cybersecurity startup Cylance.  In other deals, Thoma Bravo bought security testing vendor Veracode for $950 million; LinkedIn paid $400 LinkedIn Logomillion for a surveying startup, Glint; power management company Eaton paid $300 million for Turkish company Ulusoy Elektrik; and Citrix shelled out $200 million for intelligent portal company Sapho.  There were plenty of big name companies out shopping with no price tag named. Accenture bought a German design agency Kolle Rebbe; Apple bought AI company Silk Labs;  HPE bought big data company Bluedata; Oracle bought Talari Networks; Cisco bought networking company Ensoft; Microsoft bought another AI company, startup XOXCO; Red Hat (recently purchased by IBM) bought storage startup NooBaa; VMware bought Kubernotes startup Heptio; Symantec bought a couple of companies, Appthirty and Javelin Networks; and DXC bought a couple of companies, TESM and BusinessNow.

Last year, November 2019 saw quite a few “big dollar” deals.  The biggest saw Apollo Global taking TechData private in a deal worth $5.4 billion.  Google sold its Stubhub subsidiary to Viagogo for $4.05 billion; Xerox sold its stake in Fuji Xerox such that Fujifilm will own the whole entity at a cost of $2.3 billion; Google paid $2.1 billion for Fitbit; and Opentext paid $1.4 billion for security company Carbonite.  That is a lot of $ billion deals for one month!  Other deals saw Proofpoint pay $225 million for threat management company ObserveIT; DXC picked up solution providers, Virtual Clarity and Bluleader; Rackspace bought professional services company Onica, and Mimecast picked up DMARC Analyzer.

Which brings us back to the present …

 November 2020 continued the trend of M&A activity that we have seen these last few months, despite or perhaps because of the pandemic.  Certainly, there are distressed companies “out there”, but many companies are also just continuing to pursue their long term strategies.

The biggest deals this month saw Adobe shell out $1.5 billion for Workfront, a work management software company; Coupa Software paid $1.5 billon for AI powered supply chain design and planning company Llamasoft; Telus International also bought AI capability with their $1.2 million purchase of Lionbridge AI; and Palo Alto Networks paid $800 million for security vendor Expanse.

IBM logoSecurity company FireEye paid $186 million for cybersecurity investigation automation company Respond; and Connectwise paid $80 million for cybersecurity company Perch SecurityIBM made a couple of acquisitions; TruQua Enterprises is an SAP consulting company and Instana an application performance monitoring company with AI capability.

Cisco logoThere were  plenty more deals including Cisco buying cloud company Banzai Cloud; Splunk  bought network monitoring company Flowmill; Ping Identity  bought developer Symphonic Software; cybersecurity company Barracuda bought remote access company Fyde; StorCentric bought storage company Violin Systems; and another cybersecurty deal saw Acronis buy CyberLynx.

Apple was in the news this month, settling a case related to their throttling performance on iPhones to encourage users to upgrade.

Around the world we continue to deal with the pandemic.  There is promising news of vaccines, which will bring some relief as they are rolled out.  Economic indicators and job numbers have been improving for several months, but we are seeing rising cases and more lockdowns so the recovery is forecast to slow down.

That’s my look at the tech industry for November 2020. The full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website.   Until next month Walk Fast and Smile … don’t forget to be safe, wear a mask, wash your hands and socially distance.  We will get through this together!

Canadian Job Market Update for November 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

One of the ways Eagle adds value is to provide regular job market information.  Sometimes it is a look at Canada as a whole and other times we focus more in-depth on specific markets.  This update is a high-level look at the Canadian job market, and the factors influencing it.  In previous months we have provided market updates, specific to different markets, which you can find through the links here:

Canadian Job Market Quarterly Update Across CanadaThere are a number of indicators that I have used over the years to give an idea of how things are going.  One such indicator is the markets, and for this purpose I have focused on the TSX.  When the pandemic hit back in March, the TSX dropped to 11,350, and here in mid-November it is sitting at 16,800.  In the last five years it has rarely been above this level, except for a few months just before the pandemic hit.  Generally, the markets have performed well even during a pandemic!

The unemployment rate is an obvious indicator for the job market, and as I write this the unemployment rate is at 8.5%.  Employment is coming back with employment numbers improving on average by 2.7% every month since May.  The recovery of course is very uneven with some professions taking a real hammering.  In April there were about 5.5 million Canadians whose jobs were affected due to the pandemic, and currently that number is about 1.1 million. So improvement, but if you are unemployed, that doesn’t pay the bills.  Surprisingly, according to Statistics Canada, the professional, scientific and tech professions are in a better position today than pre-COVID.  Another indicator saw October as the first month where the self-employed numbers improved since March, which is perhaps the start of good news for our independent contractor community.  In April, Eagle experienced a 70% drop in orders from our clients but have experienced a steady recovery since then, such that order levels are about 80% of the pre-COVID demand.  This of course can change as lockdowns and outbreaks occur, but we are optimistic that we will not go back to the April levels of unemployment.

Job seekers willing to “go where the jobs are” will always fare better than those unwilling to relocate.  In Canada, the four largest provinces represent close to 90% of the jobs, with Ontario being the largest (close to 40%); Quebec (approx. 23%); BC (13.5%) and Alberta (12.5%).  So, when considering where to look for jobs, a province that employs a lot of people and has a relatively low unemployment rate is a good place to look — BC, Quebec and Ontario all fit that bill.  Alberta is still struggling because of the hit on the oil and gas sector.

One of the big factors affecting the Alberta market is the price of oil.   The price of a barrel in Canada is just under $30 and between $13 and $15 less than world prices.  One factor for this price differential is Canada’s reliance on just one client, the United States.  Unless this changes that will likely remain a factor in Alberta’s economy.   There are however still opportunities in Alberta, just not the booming demand we saw in the past.

The US is Canada’s largest trading partner and represents both opportunity and risk.  A Democratic government is not likely to be a friend to the oil and gas sector, which will continue to hurt Alberta.  Pre-COVID, the US enjoyed record levels of employment, with significant skill shortages.  There has been a significant dampening on the jobs front during the pandemic.   We have seen significant investment in Canada by large US companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google etc. all adding to their Canadian presence to tap into the talent up here, and I expect that to continue, but likely after the recovery.  Canada is also currently able to attract skilled immigrant talent easier than in the US, whose immigration laws are more prohibitive, but a change in government in the US is likely to ease that issue.  We will know more as the new administration rolls out its plans.

Tech job activity was very strong pre-COVID and while we have not recovered to the same levels yet, there is still good opportunity for in-demand skills across Canada, and that demand is increasing.  Technology has played a huge part in allowing companies to operate during the pandemic, with Digital Transformation allowing work from home strategies and websites, security and payments systems playing a significant role in the proliferation of online buying.  We typically suggest the tech unemployment rate as being about half of the general unemployment rate, but in COVID times, I would suggest an even wider gap.  The general unemployment rate of 8.5% includes the huge impact on the hospitality, travel and retail world while many tech professionals have been able to continue to work from home.  It would surprise me if the tech unemployment rate is more than 4%, which is not far off full employment.

For a more detailed look at the specific markets across Canada I suggest you read the linked writeups from Eagle’s Executive team across the country, referenced earlier.

Eagle’s focus is technology professionals and the most in demand areas/skills recently have included: Cloud, Government, Telecom, Security, Payments, CRM, Digital, Big Data, BI and AI; Agile BAs, Change Management, Quality Assurance, Architects, Solution Architects, Front & Back end developers, Full Stack developers, DevOps engineers; and even mainframe is making a comeback!

In summary, people with those in-demand tech skills and experience should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm if not immediately, then very soon!  A willingness to relocate to the bigger centers will only increase marketability.

It remains to be seen when things will return to something “more normal”, but life needs to go on and people in tech are in demand, many can work from home and that demand is only going to increase.

For employers our advice is this:

If you see great talent that will be a fit in your organization then act now, because their availability will not last long.  We will return to skills shortages sooner rather than later.

Now is a great time to refine and speed up that hiring process!  Finding, screening, hiring and onboarding can all be done remotely and efficiently, and will become an absolute necessity very soon.  We are still seeing our candidates receive multiple job offers and clients losing talent because they are too slow to make a decision, even now!

IT Industry News for September 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on October 19th, 2020

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for September 2020. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of September in previous years …

Five years ago, in September 2015, there was a fair bit of M&A activity but no blockbuster deals.  Microsoft was very active, closing three deals: Adxstudio which provides web-based ACCENTURE LOGOsolutions for Dynamics CRM; app developer Double Labs; and cloud security firm Adallom.  Accenture picked up the cloud services company Cloud Sherpas; IBM added cloud software startup StrongLoop; Netsuite paid $200 million for cloud-based marketing company Bronto Software; and Blackberry paid $425 million for competitor Good Technology.  Hardware company Konica Minolta bought IT Weapons; Qualcomm bought medical device and data management company Capsule Technologies; Networking and storage company Barracuda Networks bought online backup and disaster recovery company Intronis; and Compugen bought some of the assets of another Canadian company, Metafore.

September 2016 saw Tech Data pay $2.6 billion for the technology solutions group of Avnet, and HP made the biggest printer acquisition to date, paying $1.05 billion for HP logoSamsung’s printer business.  Other deals saw Google pay $625 million for Apogee, and restaurant company Subway bought online order taking software company Avanti Commerce.  One investment that caught my eye in the staffing world saw Accenture invest in crowdtesting company Applause.

Three years ago, September 2017 saw Google splash out $1.1 billion to acquire HTC’s pixel team, strengthening its own smartphone capabilities.  In an interesting move IKEA bought gig economy company TaskRabbit.  HPE bought Cloud Technology Partners, presumably to strengthen its capabilities in that area and possibly access new clients.  Finally Edmonton company F12.net bought Vancouver’s ONDeck Systems as it pursued its goal to be a National IT Service Provider.

There were some big deals in September 2018.  Adobe’s $4.5 million purchase of Marketo was the big deal of the month.  Not a true tech play but Sirius XM paid $3.6 billion for Pandora, and with digital/media/tech convergence it seemed like a fit.  Digital Realty expanded its data centre footprint with the $1.8 billion purchase of Brazil’s Ascenty.  SS&C paid $1.5 billion for Intralinks.  Vonage paid $300 million for contact centre as a service company NewVoiceMedia; Microsoft added to its AI portfolio, buying Lobe; Intel bought a startup, NetSpeed to help with its IoT chips; Cognizant added to its Salesforce capabilities, buying Advanced Technology Group; Infosys also added Salesforce capability in Europe, buying Fluido; and Slack addd an AI driven email client to its portfolio with the purchase of Astro.

Last year, September 2019 was relatively busy in M&A with Qualcomm’s $3.1 billion Facebook logoacquisition of TDK’s share in a RF joint venture, the largest deal of the month.  There were some big names out shopping, with Microsoft buying cloud migration company Movere; Facebook bought Wearables company Ctrl-labs (reputedly for big dollars); HP bought endpoint security company Bromium; Western Digital bought Kazan Networks; and Github bought developer tool Semmie.  Commvault paid $225 million for cloud software company Hevig and there were a few more smaller deals.

Which brings us back to the present …

In September 2020, the world continues to deal with the pandemic, with no sign of an end as yet.  Despite these challenges (or perhaps because of them) there was still a fair amount of M&A activity this month with the biggest deal seeing Nvidia pay $40 billion for chip company ArmMicrosoft splashed out in the games world, paying $7.5 billion for Zenimax media, parent company of the maker of Doom and Fallout; and the other billion dollar deal saw Ericson pay $1.1 billion for 5G specialist Cradlepoint.

Pure Storage paid $270 million for Portworx and its Kebrnetes Data Service Platform; Progress Software paid $220 million for Devops company Chef; Crowdstrike paid $896 million for cybersecurity startup Preempt Security; and Compucenter grew its North American footprint, paying $80 million for Pivot Technology Solutions.

There were some other big names making deals, with VMware buying software automation expert SaltStack; Accenture continued its buying spree with the acquisition of B2B sales automation company N3; and Cognizant grew its Microsoft team with the acquisition of 10th Magnitude.  There were a number of other deals involving lesser known names.

Other companies in the news included HP, who paid $6 million to settle charges by the SEC; and both Amazon and UPS announced some significant hiring plans.

Economies continue to struggle and unemployment numbers around the world are ugly, but there are signs of them improving with some positive signs from the US, Canada and the OECD, although we have a long way to go yet!

That’s what caught my eye over the last month.  The full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website.  Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the October 2020 tech news in just about a month’s time.

 Until then, Walk Fast and Smile … wear a mask and wash your hands!

Regional Job Market Update for Edmonton, Alberta

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

City of EdmontonAlberta’s “recovery” from a challenging recession has been long, slow and a bit tortuous. On top of a challenging past few years, a belt-tightening by the provincial government last fall caused a ripple affect across a number of sectors.

In spite of starting 2020, with the highest unemployment rate in the country, many Edmontonians entered the new decade with a renewed sense of optimism. The only way to go from here was up, right?

Enter COVID-19.

These past 6 months have been very challenging, but things are slowly starting to turn. Edmonton is currently at 91% of pre-COVID employment levels and this slow climb back to “normal” is encouraging. A cautious optimism is slowly returning, but we are expecting higher than normal unemployment and low growth for the remainder of the year. With the threat of a “second wave”, there is still hesitation and many companies do not yet have enough confidence in the economy to kick-off large enterprise projects.

Among tech workers, the news isn’t all bad. Generally, less affected by major market swings, tech jobs have continued to remain in demand. On average, the unemployment rate in IS runs approximately 3-4% points below the general average.

With a few notable exceptions, it remains a buyer’s market with the number of job seekers outpacing the supply of jobs in Edmonton. Here at Eagle, we are seeing a steady increase in demand from our clients looking for IS professionals. While we aren’t back to normal activity levels yet, we are encouraged by this.

Looking ahead to the final quarter of 2020, we expect the greatest demand to be for contractors with specialized technical skills, including Software Developers, Data Engineers and Data Analytics consultants. Opportunities in Organizational Change Management roles also continue to come up as companies look to increase employee adoption and minimize resistance of some of the initiatives that were a result of rapid roll-out due to the COVID crisis.

With many IS professionals working remotely as the norm these days, the job market is also beginning to be more national in scale. Opportunities across the country are opening up to non-local resources as companies become more open to “out-of-town” contractors. Many local consultants are taking advantage of this to continue keeping their skills current while the local market continues its slow recovery.

IT Industry News for August 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on September 9th, 2020

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for August 2020. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of August in previous years …

Five years ago in August 2015 there were two “billion-dollar” deals.  Symantec sold Veritas IBM logo(which it paid $13.5 billion dollars for 10 years prior) to a group of investors for $8 Billion and IBM shelled out $1 billion for Merge Healthcare.  Smaller deals saw Calgary-based Above Security bought by Hitachi; Transcomos bought 30% of Vietnamese daily deals site Hotdeal; Freshdesk bought live-chat company 1Click; and PLDT bought ecommerce startup Paywhere.

August 2016 saw a fair bit of M&A activity although there were no billion-dollar deals.   The largest deal saw global staffing company Randstad buy Monster for $429 million.  A similar Intel logosized deal saw Intel shell out $408 million for artificial intelligence company Nervana.  Hewlett Packard Enterprises paid $275 million for SGI (what was left of Silicon Graphics); Apple paid $200 million for artificial intelligence company, (there is a pattern here), Turi; Salesforce bought business analytics company Beyondcore for $100 million; and ScanSource paid $83.6 million for telecom cloud services company Intelisys Communications.  Other acquisitions saw Microsoft snap up two companies, artificial intelligence scheduling software company Genee, and their XBox division bought interactive livestreaming company Beam.

Three years ago, August 2017 was relatively slow on the M&A front.  Symantec sold its Cisco logowebsite security business to DigiCert for $1 billion, plus a stake in the larger entity.  Cisco paid $320 million for hyperconvergence company Springpath, CGI bought a Pittsburgh consulting company, Summa Technologies and Accenture bought a Toronto consulting company VERAX.  While not a pure tech play, the biotech world saw Aclaris pay $100 million for Confluence.

August 2018 saw a fair amount of M&A activity, a lot of smaller deals, a few significant moves and some recognizable names out buying companies.   The big deal of the month HP logosaw Cisco pay $2.35 billion for access security company Duo Security.  In other deals VMWare paid $500 million for cloud management company CloudHealth; and HP splashed out $500 million for Europe’s largest print provider, Apogee.  Apple snapped up Augmented reality startup Akonia; Accenture made two small acquisitions in the digital space, Mindtribe and Pillar Technology; Intel picked up a small AI company Vertex.Ai and Vonage paid $35 million for video company TokBox.  Apple was also in the news because it became the first public company to reach a $1 trillion valuation, and they were quickly followed by Amazon.

Last year, August 2019 was a busy month in M&A, with the big deal getting mixed reviews as Broadcom paid $10.7 billion for Symantec’s security unit.  Some saw this as old tech buying old tech, but for Broadcom it provides diversity of offering.  VMWare had a busy month paying $4.8 billion to acquire Carbon Black and Pivotal, and then announcing the acquisition of Intrinsic.  Private equity company BC Partners paid $2.1 billion to take Presidio private, and Salesforce paid $1.35 billion for ClickSoftware to improve its service capability.  The final deal in the BIG dollar leagues saw Splunk pay $1.05 billion for cloud monitoring platform SignalFx.  Accenture bought two companies; Northstream, a telecom consulting company plus engineering company, Fairways Technologies.  DXC spin-off Perspecta paid $250 million for managed services company Knight Point and there were a number of other “big name” companies making acquisitions; Amazon bought E8 Storage; Cisco bought Voicea; Microsoft bought JClarity; Twitter bought Lightwell and HPE bought the assets of MapR.

Which brings us back to the present …

August 2020 was a quiet month on the M&A front with no blockbuster deals, but still a few ACCENTURE LOGOworthy of mention.  Accenture has been on a bit of a tear in 2020, and made their 20th acquisition this year, content production company CreativeDrive.  Apple made an interesting small acquisition, Spaces, who have been bringing virtual reality to videoconferencing… Zoom meetings may never be the same!  Datacentre company Equinix increased its footprint, this time into India, paying $161 million for the Indian operations of GPX Global Systems.  Service management company Kaseya bought Graphus, a startup that helps protect against email-based threats.  NTT Data Services has also been a heavy buyer, and added ServiceNow consultancy Acorio to its offerings.

A number of companies announced layoffs this month.  These include Dell, VMware, dell logoOracle, Accenture, NetApp and Salesforce.  In contrast, there are some winners in and amongst our new reality and one of them, Amazon, announced that it was adding 3,500 new tech and corporate jobs!

Economies around the world continue to suffer and accumulate debt to help their populations cope.  As just one example, the UK had a 20.4% decline in GDP in the second quarter and has the worst recession of any G7 country.  Canada’s GDP decline was 12% which puts it middle of the pack. With a return to school happening, most countries are bracing for what that might mean, a second wave, another lockdown… or reprieve? Time will tell.

That is what caught my eye over the last month.  The full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website.  Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the September 2020 industry news in just about a month’s time.

 Until then, Walk Fast and Smile… wear a mask and wash your hands!

Regional Job Market Update for Toronto, Ontario

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Toronto, Ontario CanadaCOVID-19 has spared almost no business and the IT job market in Toronto is no exception. While it has certainly been spared some of the devastating consequences of other industries like the airline, hotel, and hospitalities, it has not been without pain and hardship of its own.

We’ve seen a mix of reactions and strategies from organizations to get through this turmoil, and it all depends on the company’s individual circumstances. While some are able and willing to use this time to accelerate their digital transformation and IT systems others are simply not financially able to, depending on where IT fits within their business and the impact of COVID.

Overall, though, there are technology employment trends that are standing out, many of which are the result of COVID-19 adjustment strategies. For example:

  • There is an increased demand for security resources as companies deal with the challenges associated with a remote workforce and the security challenges associated with keeping data secure from so many remote locations.
  • The demand for resources skilled in data analysis and analytics is expected to continue, if not rise.  Companies are competing to better understand how their customers operate in this reality.  Data positions are in high demand and this looks to continue.
  • Web-based projects continue to be on the rise, with UI and UX developers being sought after throughout all industries.

As stated, the outlook for IT jobs in Toronto is rosier than many other industries and locations.  Jobs grew in Ontario in June and July and IT far outpaced the median here. Specifically in Toronto, employers are continuing to recognize the strength of talent that’s out there. Once again, CBRE ranked Toronto the 4th best city in North America for tech talent in 2020, citing an overall 5-year employment growth of 36.5% and 5-year wage growth of 11.2%.

Part of the city’s success is due to the thousands of immigrant tech workers choosing to come here rather than the US, and Toronto is benefitting from that trend. Policy south of the border is encouraging more immigrants from Silicon Valley to make the Great White North their home, and leading companies are following the talent, choosing Toronto for their headquarters.

As we all band together to get through these tough times, the future remains bright in the Toronto IT market.  The expectation that organizations will continue to invest in IT in Toronto means the demand for top talent will remain high. That said, competition for contracts is also strong, so if you’re an IT contractor navigating your way through tough times, my advice is to continue expanding your networks and talking to recruiters. Companies who are hiring are doing so quickly, meaning the contractors who are top of mind and keeping their skills fresh are the ones most likely to get the gig.

IT Industry News for July 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on August 10th, 2020

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for July 2020. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of July in previous years …

Five years ago, July 2015 saw no billion-dollar deals, but there was some activity with some big names out shopping.  Microsoft made two acquisitions, paying $320 million for Microsoft logocloud security company Adallom and customer servicing software company FieldOne Systems. IBM picked up database-as-a-service company Compose; Cisco paid $139 million for sales automation company MaintenanceNet; HP bought a cloud development platform Stackato; Blackberry bought AtHoc, a crisis communication tool; and DropBox bought messaging company Clementine.  Other acquisitions saw Cisco as a seller, with Technicolor paying $600 million for Cisco’s set top box division; Level 3 bought security firm Black Lotus; Amadeus bought travel software company Navitaire (a subsidiary of Accenture) for $830 million; eBay sold its enterprise unit for $925 million, having paid $2.4 billion for it four years ago.  In the continued blurring of the lines between technology companies and other industries, Capital One bank acquired design, development and marketing firm Monsoon.

In July 2016, Verizon made two multi-billion-dollar acquisitions.  The big name was Yahoo! who they bought for $4.83 billion, but they also paid $2.4 billion for Fleetmatics who provide fleet and mobile workforce management services.  Oracle were also out spending big dollars, paying $9.3 billion for cloud-based ERP company, Netsuite. Now if those deals were not big enough, Softbank (like Verizon, they have a large telco presence — formerly Vodafone) paid a whopping $32.2 billion for chip designer ARM Holdings. Also joining the July billion dollar club was security vendor Avast, who bought AVG for $1.3 billion. Other deals that month saw Salesforce pay $582 million for cloud-based startup Quip; Google bought video company Anvato; Terradata bought training company Big Data Partnership; and Opentext bought analytics company Recommind.

Three years ago, July 2017 saw Cincinnati Bell buy Hawaiian Telcom Holdco for $650 Mitel Logomillion and OnX for $201 million. Mitel paid $430 million for ShoreTel and bought Toshiba’s unified communications business. In Toronto, digital signage solution provider, Dot2Dot, acquired Pixel Point Digital. PNI Canada Acuireco Corp. purchased Sandvine Corp. for $562 million with plans to merge Sandvine and Procera Networks.

July 2018 was a busy M&A month with the biggest deal of the month, a somewhat unlikely $19 billion acquisition of CA Technologies by Broadcom, who were clearly planning to expand beyond the semiconductor world.  Solution provider, Atos was paying $3.45 billion for Syntel, creating a large North American presence.  Fortive was paying $2 billion for physical resource management software company Accruent, and the last billion dollar deal of the month saw SS&C pay $1.45 billion for investment technology company Eze Software.  Other deals saw AT&T buy cybersecurity company Alienvault; Hitachi bought AWS integrator Rean; Intel bought specialty chip maker eAsic Corp; Accenture continued its acquisition spree with the purchase of AI company Kogentix; and Getronics re-entered the North American market with the purchase of Pomeroy.

July 2019 was a little quiet, but there were some big deals announced.  Cisco’s $2.6 billion Cisco logoacquisition of Acacia Communications was the biggest deal. Apple splashed $1 billion to buy Intel’s smartphone modem business, and KKR bought Corel for $1 billion too.  There were a few more deals hit my radar with Google buying storage company Elastifile; 8X8 cloud communications company paying $100 million for Platform as a service company Wavecell; and last but not least, Epam Systems bought educational content company Competentum.

Which brings us back to the present …

It is difficult to predict business activity during the current pandemic, but many companies continue with their growth initiatives and July 2020 saw quite a few deals done. There were big names out buying, some deals were not so significant in size but there was at least one in the billion dollar range, with HPE paying $925 million for SD WAN technology company Silver PeakDXC sold its healthcare business for $525 million to Dedalus Group, an Italian company and there was plenty more action but with no price disclosed. Google bought Canadian smart glasses company North; Cisco bought video analytics company Modcam; VMware bought cloud disaster recovery company Datrium; Fortinet bought cloud security startup Opaq Networks; and Mimecast bought email security startup MessageControlUber continues its growth with the purchase of RouteMatch a company focused on public transport systems and a couple of smaller deals saw cyber protection company Acronis buy DeviceLock which provides security at the device level; and Advent International, a private equity firm bought cyber security firm Forescout.  Clearly cyber security is a hot area!

Huawei continues to be in the news, this time the in UK, where the government has reversed its previous decision and has now locked out the company from the UK commercial telecommunications network.  Twitter had an embarrassing leak with some admin accounts compromised and some very high-profile accounts hacked.  Finally, LinkedIn has announced layoffs associated with the pandemic, cutting 960 jobs or about 6% of their workforce.

On the economic, and jobs, front we are still in a period of huge uncertainty, and your crystal ball is probably just as good as mine.  There were some positive signs though, with both Canada (952,000) and the US (2.4 million) showing big job gains in the last month.  The OECD also showed a slight improvement in the unemployment rate, from 8.5% to 8.4% but there are still 54 million people unemployed in the OECD countries!

That’s what caught my eye over the last month, the full edition will be available soon on the  News section of the Eagle website. Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the August 2020 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile.