Observers of New Mexico’s tech economy may not be surprised by some of the industries that continued to see acquisition activity throughout the past year: Cybersecurity, space and defense.
Still, many of the deals Albuquerque Business First reported on in 2021 were significant in their own ways. For example, two of the largest deals represented exits for homegrown startups, whereas another showed continued interest in consolidating the operations of (more than one) local firm.
To round out the year — and prepare for all the deals to come about in 2022 — we gathered some of the acquisition deals that caught our attention over the past 12 months.
After a 15-year journey that began with university research, Albuquerque cybersecurity firm RiskSense exited to Utah-based Ivanti. Officials declined to disclose the specific terms of the deal, but Mukkamala told Business First that it was “probably one of the largest private deals in New Mexico.” He went on to add that it was worth a “lot more” than $10 million.
RiskSense started in 2006 as a spinoff of New Mexico Tech’s Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis (ICASA). The firm developed its original technology there, and it initially subcontracted much of its work to the national security and infrastructure research organization, in addition to employing doctoral students.
With the acquisition, Ivanti gained new technological capabilities to pair with its patching services — meant to identify and fix vulnerabilities that may lead to a hack. And with RiskSense, Ivanti will be able to prioritize patches for vulnerabilities that present the highest risk, Business First reported.
Ivanti has made at least three other acquisitions since late 2020, including the purchase of Cherwell Software in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Another Utah company, Health Catalyst, acquired Twistle in a deal said to have an aggregate purchase price of about $104.5 million, including approximately $57.5 million in cash and $47 million in common stock.
Health Catalyst provides data and analytics tech and services to health care organizations. Albuquerque-based Twistle offers patient engagement tech that supports various forms of communication. Health Catalyst planned to pair Twistle’s clinical workflow and patient engagement platform with one of its own offerings for a solution aimed at addressing population health.
The deal came after Twistle disclosed more than $18 million in investment in 2019 and 2020. The largest of the rounds, worth $16 million, was led by New York-based health care technology and services investment firm Health Enterprise Partners, which invested more than $7 million.
Rocket Lab USA Inc. bolstered its portfolio as an end-to-end space company with the acquisition of space-focused solar firm SolAero Holdings Inc., which is based in Albuquerque.
The Long Beach, California-based Rocket Lab inked the deal for $80 million in cash and is expected to close on the acquisition in the first quarter of 2022.
The addition of SolAero’s 425 employees brings Rocket Lab’s total headcount to more than 1,100 across facilities in California, Virginia, Colorado, Maryland, Toronto, New Zealand and now Albuquerque. Founded in 1998, SolAero is one of only two U.S. companies that produce high-efficiency, space-grade solar cells.
SolAero’s products support civil space exploration, science, defense and intelligence and commercial markets. Previously, it led to the creation of the solar panel that facilitated the first-ever powered, controlled flight on Mars (and the first on a planet other than Earth), SolAero said in April.
Design & Development Engineering Services (DDES)
Defense firm BlueHalo announced in July its pending acquisition of DDES, an Albuquerque firm that designs and manufactures electronic systems for military and national security spacecraft.
DDES is not the first local engineering company to join BlueHalo, which made plans for a new 200,000-square-foot development at Albuquerque’s proposed Max Q business park. In 2020, Applied Technology Associates (ATA) announced plans to merge with the growing defense firm. Alabama-based engineering firm AEgis Technologies Group, which had a local presence, and Ohio-based engineering and software firm Brilligent Solutions were also in on the deal with ATA.
BlueHalo is part of Arlington Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Maryland that has managed almost $4 billion worth of capital through five funds, according to its website.
TMC Design, an advanced engineering company founded in 1997, was bought by Los Angeles-based LinQuest, a space systems technology company that provides solutions for defense and intelligence. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, which was announced in January 2021.
TMC provides expertise in the areas of electronic warfare systems, antennas, satellite communication systems and other solutions. It has operations in New Mexico, Colorado and Alabama. During the past year, the company has been awarded $1.1 million from the Department of Defense, according to government data.
LinQuest previously bought The Perduco Group, which provided technical solutions to the defense and intelligence communities, the Dayton Business Journal reported.
Atlanta-based OneTrust LLC, a cybersecurity and compliance firm, announced in May that it would scoop up Shared Assessments, a risk assessment company in Santa Fe founded in 2006. The deal was to allow Shared Assessments to scale the use of its Standardized Information Gathering Questionnaire, a third-party risk assessment standard that is used to assess security risks at vendors that companies may work with.
“We’ve definitely hit an inflection point in this industry. The last year has really highlighted that. … there has been a massive rapid shift to work-from-home and that created a whole new set of risks that companies had to deal with,” said Jennifer Burke, chief marketing officer at Shared Assessments. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
OneTrust said its questionnaire was used by more than 15,000 companies globally.
Broken Arrow Communications Inc. (BACOM)
Fiber optics firm QualTek bought wire communications installation, construction and maintenance firm Broken Arrow Communications Inc. (BACOM) in a deal unveiled in August. In the past, BACOM worked with mobile carriers Verizon, T Mobile, Cricket and Sprint.
Prior to the deal with QualTek, BACOM was also acquired by Blue Sage Capital, a private equity firm in Austin, in partnership with Private Equity Capital Corp. (PECC). That acquisition closed about five years ago.
QualTek, on the other hand, has more than 80 locations with headquarters in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. The company is in the midst of going public through a merger with blank-check company Roth CH Acquisition III Co. In an August business update for Roth CH, QualTek CEO Scott Hisey said the deal “will add additional crews to our west coast wireless operations,” according to a transcript of an investor call made available by Roth CH.
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