VMWare's AirWatch buy shakes up EMM market

Richard Absalom/Ovum
24 Jan 2014

On January 22, 2014, VMware announced its agreement to acquire enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendor AirWatch for more than $1.5 billion ($1.375 billion in cash and $365 million in installments and assumed unvested equity).

AirWatch is privately held and based out of Atlanta. It has been one of the clear leaders in the growing market for mobility management solutions over the past three years. The acquisition represents a clear statement of intent from VMware, affirmation of the need for managed mobility solutions, and a successful, well-timed exit deal for AirWatch.

The deal is the biggest so far in the growing EMM market, and is yet another example of the consolidation that Ovum has predicted and tracked; the market has already seen heavy M&A activity over the past 24 months.

VMware’s acquisition of AirWatch is a significant shake-up, and will leave a few independent, niche mobility specialists up against a growing list of major IT vendors. This means, of course, that there are only a few high-end options remaining for bigger names to acquire. We expect the VMware–AirWatch deal to kick-start a busy period of acquisition activity, as mega-vendors that are not already heavily involved in the space buy into it.

A successful, well-timed acquisition from AirWatch’s point of view

AirWatch has been one of the leading vendors in the enterprise mobility management market, exhibiting phenomenal growth over the last few years – now boasting 1,600 employees and 10,000 enterprise customers globally. Having received $225 million in investment in early 2013 (used primarily to complete its global expansion and aggressively push organic growth), the acquisition price of $1.5 billion will no doubt be pleasing to AirWatch’s founders and investors.

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