PwC: Software at the forefront of tech M&A activity in 2014

The Facebook-WhatsApp merger is just the beginning of some major (and sometimes just plain crazy) deals in the tech world coming in 2014.


This might seem rather obvious following Facebook's astounding and ginormous acquisition of WhatsApp on Wednesday, but mergers and acquisitions in the tech world are poised to stay strong this year.

That's the major takeaway from the latest recap and forecast from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which published both its US Technology Deals Insights 2013 Year in Review and 2014 Outlook reports on Thursday.

Following some missteps and disappointments in 2011 and 2012, analysts from the global consulting firm repeatedly predicted better things throughout 2013 as far as both tech M&A and IPO activity were concerned .

PwC was right for the most part, although the Deal Insights report noted that the cumulative technology deal value for 2013 closed at $99.8 billion, down three percent from 2012.

Nevertheless, PwC pointed toward "an abundance of cash reserves from technology majors and record levels of private equity capital" at the end of the year, which they believe have set the stage for an uptick in technology deals this coming year.

But where the money is going might still come as a bit of a surprise -- at least to those only paying attention to flashy trends and big-number predictions. (See: Varying forecasts for the number of connected devices expected to take over the world between 2017 and 2020.)

Rather than mobile and big data, which are arguably the buzzwords du jour in enterprise technology, plain old software is still the ringleader as analysts argue that this sector will remain at the forefront of tech deals. That's because software, as it expands into the cloud to be delivered as a service, helps fuel and power these other verticals.

PwC cited that software accounted for 35 percent of technology M&A volume in 2013. That pace should continue, but expect some alterations.

For one, analysts proposed that the "lines between the Software and Internet sectors continue to fade," which means combined sub-sector deals will likely decline. However, software is getting a boost as hardware M&A activity looks mixed.

To fill in the gaps (such as infusing intelligence and automation into more critical processes), PwC concluded that there will be "more software acquisitions that enable users to orchestrate traditional hardware tasks with software."