A wave of takeovers has broken out in the cybersecurity industry as the market reaches new record highs. Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), Palo Alto Networks Inc. (PANW), FireEye Inc. (FEYE), and Imperva Inc. (IMPV) have all made cybersecurity acquisitions in recent weeks as they scoop up smaller companies in the burgeoning enterprise software industry tied to cybersecurity. That wave is likely to continue, as outlined below in a recent Fortune report.
“There is a bit of a scramble to get premium assets,” said Sarah Guo, an investor at Greylock Partners. “One driving factor could be the strong tech market right now is giving acquirers the multiple (and therefore the ammo) to make big acquisitions.” And with a recession becoming more likely, she said, “there’s some preemptive concern about how weaker or less strategic companies will progress when such a long bull market inevitably changes.”
Cybersecurity investor Ron Gula noted that chatter of a forthcoming recession often allows private backers to put more pressure on startups to raise money, thus putting more pressure on them to cash out sooner. As more companies see rivals go the M&A or public route, “this can create a sense of urgency,” Gula told Fortune.
Bigger Tech Firms Expand
Another factor driving the exit wave is the timing of the cybersecurity venture capital boom, which started about five years ago, making many companies ripe for an exit around the same time. Meanwhile, there are more potential buyers across industries. That's because companies not traditionally regarded as cybersecurity firms are looking to add the offering to their portfolios.
“They see the benefit of saying, We have lots of data, we’re gonna look to add security to that data,” explained Enrique Salem, former CEO of cybersecurity company Symantec and a current investor at Bain Capital Ventures, per Fortune. For example, networking industry leader Cisco has been scooping up cybersecurity firms for its new high growth segment, including its $2.4 billion purchase of Duo Security. Also, communications giant AT&T Inc. (T) bought out AlienVault last year, while Blackberry broke into the space with the $1.4 billion purchase of Cylance in February.
The recent success of the IPO of CrowdStrike Holdings (CRWD), a provider of cloud-based security software, also illustrates the intense investor interest in the industry. The stock has risen 24% since its first-day close on June 10 and now has a market value of around $14 billion.
While fears of a cybersecurity “winter” loom, that's a big opportunity for buyers. Tom Turner, CEO of BitSight, told Fortune that while the sector periodically contracts, “the consolidation is rarely as widespread as forecast.” He added that the exit of competitors creates an opportunity for other firms to hire the talent that re-enters the market.