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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 Drummond 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.

Go deeper

Slack stumbles in its push to connect everyone

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Workplace messaging service Slack on Wednesday turned on a feature allowing users to send messages to others who work for different companies or organizations. However, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva and Ina Fried report, the long-planned move quickly hit a speed bump, as users pointed out ways the system could be easily abused.

The big picture: Slack's long-term goal is to be a better alternative to email. But as it tries to expand its service it risks losing the qualities that made it appealing in the first place.

D.C.'s tech money shame game

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big Tech dollars may be becoming toxic in Washington.

What's happening: The once lionized industry finds itself more and more cast as a pariah, with lawmakers comparing Big Tech to Big Tobacco during a hearing with tech CEOs last week and a key House Republican forswearing industry donations.

In photos: Students evacuated as wildfire burns historic Cape Town buildings

Firefighters try, in vain, to extinguish a fire in the Jagger Library, at the University of Cape Town, after a forest fire came down the foothills of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images

A massive wildfire spread from the foothills of Table Mountain to the University of Cape Town Sunday, burning historic South African buildings and forcing the evacuation of 4,000 students, per Times Live.

The big picture: Visitors to the Table Mountain National Park and other nearby attractions were also evacuated and several roads including a major highway, were closed. South Africa's oldest working windmill and the university's Jagger Library, which houses SA antiquities, are among the buildings damaged.