Updated Mar 31, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on new deal-making in tech

On Wednesday, March 31, Axios hosted a virtual event on new deal-making in tech mergers and acquisitions. Axios business editor Dan Primack and technology and business reporter Kia Kokalitcheva will hosted one-on-one conversations with Slack CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield and Merus founding partners Sean Dempsey and Salman Ullah.

Stewart Butterfield discussed the long-term changes that the pandemic has brought to the workplace, Salesforce's acquisition of Slack, and his view of SPACs.

  • On the difference between Slack being acquired by Salesforce versus Flickr being acquired by Yahoo!: "At the time Flickr was acquired, it was nine of us on the team and Yahoo was 12,000...[Slack is] coming in just a totally different relationship in terms of the power dynamic and what's possible."
  • His view on the trend of startups going public with SPACs: "I've had a lot of friends do IPOs over the last couple of years. I have not been in touch with any CEOs of companies that went out through a SPAC...[If] it wasn't already something that you planned to do, I don't think SPAC would be a good way to do it...If you do want to go public, I think it's an alternative to consider."

Sean Dempsey and Salman Ullah unpacked the impact of antitrust on tech M&A as well as challenges of effective technology regulation.

  • Sean Dempsey on how tech M&A will change with antitrust: "I think this does have a chilling effect...antitrust enforcement hasn't necessarily changed a whole lot in this country [but] that is starting to change potentially."
  • Salman Ullah on how the EU and the U.S. differ in their approach to tech regulation: "It's a challenging area to really get into and understand which areas should be more tightly scrutinized or regulated. I think the EU is a little bit further ahead in the US in that regard."

Axios Chief Revenue Officer Fabricio Drumond hosted a View from the Top segment with Cooley partner and M&A co-chair Jamie Kathleen Leigh, who discussed the tech M&A market in 2021 and what buyers are looking for in acquisitions.

  • "We're now living in one of the most active deal markets in history—tech dealmaking in particular—very resilient. It's our serial buyers that have been quick to rebound, looking for strong growth profiles and targets with stable teams and easy-to-integrate operations."

Thank you Cooley for sponsoring this event.

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