Mobile App Developers Are the New M&A Target


Mobile applications are emerging as a critical component in the strategies of corporate giants from retailers to accounting companies. Are golf course operators among your clients? Better make sure they have a good caddy app that takes advantage of the latest in GPS technology. If you're a retailer, you want to make sure your point-of-sale software is well integrated with the latest  barcode-reading app. 

To develop that capability to quickly take advantage of the latest in mobile app technology, large corporations are buying up leaders in the  mobile app industry.  In December Deloitte purchased Seattle-based Übermind, followed quickly by Walmart’s announcement of a deal with the Portland, Ore., firm Small Society to go with their expanding Walmart Labs portfolio of app developers, such as Grabble and OneRiot.  With these acquisitions Walmart and Deloitte get firms with proven track-records to add to their respective stables: Übermind has developed apps for REI, Target and Alaska Airlines, among others; while Small Society has worked with industry giants and Starbucks, as well as Zipcar and the Democratic National Convention.

Both Deloitte and Walmart seem to be using these purchases as strategic assets to upgrade their digital services across the board, rather than as keeping them independent entities as CNN professes to be doing with their recent acquisition, Zite.  In August CNN purchased Zite, the creators of a mobile magazine app of the same name, with an eye towards gaining purchase in the app marketplace.  Though CNN admits to using Zite’s talent-pool to upgrade their digital content, as of now it will remain an independent entity.  Whatever the case may be, mobile app developers look to be the hot new commodity for larger firms lacking a tech-savvy pedigree that are looking to keep up with the mobile app boom.

2016 Tech Impact Awards: Tech Impact Champion

2016 Tech Impact Awards: Tech Impact Champion

Congratulations, Ed Lazowska!

Ed Lazowska, Ph.D.
Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington

When Ed Lazowska arrived in Seattle 39 years ago as an assistant professor, both the University of Washington and the region were very different places. In computer science, he was the newest of only 13 faculty members. The region’s tech industry largely consisted of Boeing, Fluke and Physio-Control. Microsoft at the time was still a dozen people in Albuquerque. 
Today, the UW’s Computer Science & Engineering Department rivals Stanford’s and Carnegie Mellon’s for attracting tech talent and major research — accomplishments that Lazowska helped bring about. As the university’s department chair, his effort to recruit leading data scientists included personally reaching out to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who provided $2 million from Amazon to endow two professorships and personally met with researchers. A decade after leading fundraising to build the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, he is doing so again to build a new CSE facility that will help double the center’s capacity.
“Our job,” Lazowksa asserts, “is to provide socioeconomic mobility for bright kids in this region.”
Driving opportunities through research remains his passion, as his own studies in high-performance computing, multicomputer processing and big data science have proved. An early technical adviser on the formation of Microsoft Research and a member of two national advisory committees on science and technology policy, he has promoted private and public investment in “engineering things that one day in the future will be used in game-changing products.”
Lazowska believes big data and cloud computing “lie at the heart of 21st century discovery.” He helped found and now leads the UW’s eScience Institute, a cross-campus partnership that helps scholars in fields such as astronomy, biology and sociology take advantage of data analytics to enhance their research. Given the region’s far-reaching cloud expertise, Lazowska says, “This is an area that Seattle has the potential to own.”
Lazowska’s other initiatives include promoting K-12 STEM education and gender diversity in the UW program. He champions the notion that all students should study computer science to cultivate the “computational thinking” skills needed for the new century.
Lazowska marvels at the region’s transformation into a place “with distinctive and innovative activities in the broadest range of areas.” With his trademark enthusiasm for the UW and the local tech sector, this celebrated educator, researcher, adviser and booster has played an important role in that transformation.
Previous Tech Impact Champions
Tech Impact Champions are chosen not only for their achievements in technology but also for championing the region’s broader tech sector. Past inductees in Seattle Business magazine’s Hall of Technology Champions, previously called Lifetime Achievement Award honorees, are:
  2012: John McAdams, former CEO, F5 Networks
  2013: Jeremy Jaech, cofounder, Aldus and Visio, and chair emeritus, the Technology Alliance
  2014: Steve Ballmer, former CEO, Microsoft
  2015: Tom Alberg, cofounder, Madrona Venture Group