Comparing the Biggest Tech Mergers and Acquisitions of 2020
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Visualizing the Biggest Tech Mergers and Acquisitions of 2020

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Biggest Tech Mergers and Acquisitions of 2020

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The Biggest Tech Mergers and Acquisitions of 2020

For most businesses around the world, 2020 was a year of difficulties, lost business, and economic hardship. For Big Tech, it was a boon.

After COVID-19 hit hard in March, tech companies started to see their customer bases and revenues grow at an increased rate as people were stuck at home and utilizing their services.

Since down markets are the perfect time to consolidate, 2020 also saw big tech companies take the opportunity to grow their business with major mergers and acquisitions (M&A). After a quieter year in 2019 that saw tech investment activity dip, it was a resurgence to expected form.

In this graphic, we visualize the year’s biggest tech deals above $1 billion using data from Computerworld, which tracked the year’s biggest acquisitions.

Deal Activity from the Get-Go

Though 2020 was all about COVID-19 and its impact on the market, the tech sector had major deal flow even before the pandemic began.

By the end of February, six of the 19 biggest tech mergers and acquisitions of the year had already occurred—and the month of February alone saw the most major deals of any month with four.

The first deals of the year were also some of the biggest. Morgan Stanley’s purchase of online brokerage E*TRADE for $13 billion and Koch Industries’ $11 billion completed takeover of software company Infor were the 4th and 5th biggest tech acquisitions of 2020.

Other big moves included purchases from tech and payments firms Salesforce, Visa, and Intuit, as well as private equity firm Insight Partners.

The Biggest 2020 Deals Were Saved for Last

After a quiet March, only a few large deals occurred from April to the summer.

Nvidia’s $6.9 billion purchase of network chip producer Mellanox Technologies in May was more than a year in the making, and Uber’s $2.65 billion acquisition of food delivery rival Postmates in July significantly consolidated the U.S. food delivery scene.

As it turned out, the biggest deals of 2020 were back-loaded for the end of the year. Just under half of 2020’s billion-dollar tech M&As happened from September‒December, including the year’s three largest tech acquisitions:

DatePurchaserAcquired CompanyAmount (Billions)
2020-09-13NvidiaArm$40.0
2020-10-27AMDXilinx$35.0
2020-12-01SalesforceSlack$27.7
2020-02-21Morgan StanleyETrade$13.0
2020-02-04Koch IndustriesInfor$11.0
2020-10-29Marvell TechonologyInphi$10.0
2020-02-28IntuitCredit Karma$7.1
2020-05-04NvidiaMellanox$6.9
2020-01-13VisaPlaid$5.3
2020-01-09Insight PartnersVeeeam$5.0
2020-12-14Vista Equity PartnersPluralsight$3.5
2020-10-12TwilioSegment$3.2
2020-07-06UberPostmates$2.7
2020-11-10AdobeWorkfront $1.5
2020-02-25SalesforceVlocity$1.3
2020-04-07SoFI Galileo$1.2
2020-06-26AmazonZoox$1.2
2020-05-04IntelMoovit$1.0
2020-11-30FacebookKustomer$1.0

Of the 19 deals over $1 billion tracked above, Salesforce and Nvidia were the only companies to make multiple major acquisitions. And although tech saw gains across the sector, most of the major M&A activity was centered around semiconductors.

As 2020 winds down, the market focus on tech is expected to last into 2021. However, the markets and the world at large continue to deal with COVID-19.

The rollout of vaccines has put the world on a timeline to reach a post-COVID era. How will the tech landscape be affected?

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The World’s Most Used Apps, by Downstream Traffic

Of the millions of apps available around the world, just a small handful of the most used apps dominate global internet traffic.

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The World’s Most Used Apps by Downstream Traffic Share

The World’s Most Used Apps, by Downstream Traffic

Of the millions of apps available around the world, just a small handful of the most used apps dominate global internet traffic.

Everything connected to the internet takes bandwidth to view. When you look at something on your smartphone—whether it’s a new message on Instagram or the next few seconds of a YouTube video—your device is downloading the data in the background.

And the bigger the files, the more bandwidth is utilized. In this chart, we break down of the most used apps by category, using Sandvine’s global mobile traffic report for 2021 Q1.

Video Drives Global Mobile Internet Traffic

The biggest files use the most data, and video files take the cake.

According to Android Central, streaming video ranges from about 0.7GB per hour of data for a 480p video to 1.5GB per hour for 1080. A 4K stream, the highest resolution currently offered by most providers, uses around 7.2GB per hour.

That’s miles bigger than audio files, where high quality 320kbps music streams use an average of just 0.12GB per hour. Social network messages are usually just a few KB, while the pictures found on them can range from a few hundred KB for a low resolution image to hundreds of MB for high resolution.

Understandably, breaking down mobile downstream traffic by app category shows that video is on top by a long shot:

CategoryDownstream Traffic Share (2021 Q1)
Video Streaming48.9%
Social Networking19.3%
Web13.1%
Messaging6.7%
Gaming4.3%
Marketplace4.1%
File Sharing1.3%
Cloud1.1%
VPN and Security0.9%
Audio0.2%

Video streaming accounts for almost half of mobile downstream traffic worldwide at 49%. Audio streaming, including music and podcasts, accounts for just 0.2%.

Comparatively, social network and web browsing combined make up one third of downstream internet traffic. Games, marketplace apps, and file sharing, despite their large file sizes, only require one-time downloads that don’t put as big of a strain on traffic as video does.

A Handful of Companies Own the Most Used Apps

Though internet traffic data is broken down by category, it’s worth noting that many apps consume multiple types of bandwidth.

For example, messaging and social network apps, like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Snapchat, allow consumers to stream video, social network, and message.

Even marketplace apps like iTunes and Google Play consume bandwidth for video and audio streaming, and together account for 6.3% of total mobile downstream traffic.

But no single app had a bigger footprint than YouTube, which accounts for 20.4% of total global downstream bandwidth.

CategoryTop Apps (Category Traffic)Category Traffic Share
Video StreamingYouTube47.9%
Video StreamingTikTok16.1%
Video StreamingFacebook Video14.6%
Video StreamingInstagram12.1%
Video StreamingNetflix4.3%
Video StreamingOther5.0%
Social NetworkingFacebook50.5%
Social NetworkingInstagram41.9%
Social NetworkingTwitter2.4%
Social NetworkingOdnoklassniki1.9%
Social NetworkingQQ0.7%
Social NetworkingOther2.9%
MessagingWhatsApp31.4%
MessagingSnapchat16.5%
MessagingFacebook VoIP14.3%
MessagingLINE12.1%
MessagingSkype4.1%
MessagingOther21.6%
WebGoogle41.2%
WebOther58.8%

The world’s tech giants had the leading app in the four biggest data streaming categories. Alphabet’s YouTube and Google made up almost half of all video streaming and web browsing traffic, while Facebook’s own app, combined with Instagram and WhatsApp, accounted for 93% of global social networking traffic and 45% of messaging traffic.

Traffic usage by app highlights the data monopoly of tech giants and internet providers. Since just a few companies account for a majority of global smartphone internet traffic, they have a lot more bartering power (and responsibility) when it comes to our general internet consumption.

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Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone

Smartphones can contain ~80% of the stable elements on the periodic table. This graphic details the critical metals you carry in your pocket.

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Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone

In an increasingly connected world, smartphones have become an inseparable part of our lives.

Over 60% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone and smartphone adoption continues to rise in developing countries around the world.

While each brand has its own mix of components, whether it’s a Samsung or an iPhone, most smartphones can carry roughly 80% of the stable elements on the periodic table.

But some of the vital metals to build these devices are considered at risk due to geological scarcity, geopolitical issues, and other factors.

Smartphone PartCritical Metal
Touch Screen indium
Displaylanthanum; gadolinium; praseodymium; europium; terbium; dysprosium
Electronicsnickel, gallium, tantalum
Casingnickel, magnesium
Battery lithium, nickel, cobalt
Microphone, speakers, vibration unit nickel, praseodymium, neodymium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium

What’s in Your Pocket?

This infographic based on data from the University of Birmingham details all the critical metals that you carry in your pocket with your smartphone.

1. Touch Screen

Screens are made up of multiple layers of glass and plastic, coated with a conductor material called indium which is highly conductive and transparent.

Indium responds when contacted by another electrical conductor, like our fingers.

When we touch the screen, an electric circuit is completed where the finger makes contact with the screen, changing the electrical charge at this location. The device registers this electrical charge as a “touch event”, then prompting a response.

2. Display

Smartphones screens display images on a liquid crystal display (LCD). Just like in most TVs and computer monitors, a phone LCD uses an electrical current to adjust the color of each pixel.

Several rare earth elements are used to produce the colors on screen.

3. Electronics

Smartphones employ multiple antenna systems, such as Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi.

The distance between these antenna systems is usually small making it extremely difficult to achieve flawless performance. Capacitors made of the rare, hard, blue-gray metal tantalum are used for filtering and frequency tuning.

Nickel is also used in capacitors and in mobile phone electrical connections. Another silvery metal, gallium, is used in semiconductors.

4. Microphone, Speakers, Vibration Unit

Nickel is used in the microphone diaphragm (that vibrates in response to sound waves).

Alloys containing rare earths neodymium, praseodymium and gadolinium are used in the magnets contained in the speaker and microphone. Neodymium, terbium and dysprosium are also used in the vibration unit.

5. Casing

There are many materials used to make phone cases, such as plastic, aluminum, carbon fiber, and even gold. Commonly, the cases have nickel to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and magnesium alloys for EMI shielding.

6. Battery

Unless you bought your smartphone a decade ago, your device most likely carries a lithium-ion battery, which is charged and discharged by lithium ions moving between the negative (anode) and positive (cathode) electrodes.

What’s Next?

Smartphones will naturally evolve as consumers look for ever-more useful features. Foldable phones, 5G technology with higher download speeds, and extra cameras are just a few of the changes expected.

As technology continues to improve, so will the demand for the metals necessary for the next generation of smartphones.

This post was originally featured on Elements

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