Black Duck data shows mergers up, recovery ahead

Black Duck first noticed an uptick in M&A software audits in the third quarter of last year, way before there were any reports of economic growth in the media,

Black Duck Software says its software assessments for mergers doubled during the first quarter of 2010, from a year ago, and that figures for the second quarter look nearly as good.

Some of the improvement comes from companies accepting the need to check software assets of acquisition targets, some from Black Duck's growing market share in the space, but most of it is the result of increased merger activity, said senior vice president Peter Vescuso.

"We first noticed an uptick in the third quarter of last year, way before you saw reports of growth in the media," he told ZDNet.

So this is seriously good news, not just for Black Duck and not just for open source but for the economy generally. "This is clearly economic activity," he said.

Black Duck's software audits are designed to detect potential license violations, redundant code and other issues that could affect the value and terms of a merger. There are a few horror stories where deals have blown up because of open source licensing issues, the company said, but targets have grown more accepting.

"Targets have moved from skepticism of the due diligence to not questioning it," said Vescuso. "It's expected. Targets are even allowing these scans to be done remotely."

One acquirer alone has used the service 15 times to evaluate deals worth a cumulative $7.5 billion, Vescuso said. The company's hope is that in the future business journalists will follow its M&A numbers just as they do other indicators, as signs of coming economic growth.