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Top Tech Stories of the year

Year in Review: Christopher Calnan's picks of 2015's top tech stories

A lousy economy

Dell Inc.'s proposed acquisition of EMC Corp. is ABJ's 2015 tech story of the year.

Sam Hodgson

The year 2015 will be remembered in Austin as the year for big merger and acquisition deals in the tech sector. Several of those deals are highlights in my picks for the top five tech stories of the year:

1. Dell Inc. to acquire EMC Corp. Dell Inc.’s proposed $67 billion acquisition of Massachusetts-based EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is scheduled to be completed after the midyear. The merger would be big not only for Central Texas but it would also be the largest such deal in the history of the technology industry. Although Round Rock-based Dell has several hurdles to overcome and months before a possible completion, the merger should proved to be pivotal for the future of the company and thousands of local workers.

2. HomeAway Inc. acquired by Expedia Inc. Travel industry giant Expedia Inc. acquired Austin-based home-rental company HomeAway Inc. for $3.9 billion. The deal was announced in November. HomeAway, founded in 2005, operates websites listing vacation home rentals. It employs about 1, 540 workers, including more than 600 outside the United States. About 900 employees work at five HomeAway offices in Austin. Industry observers will be interested in the number of duplicate position cut during the integration process in 2016.

3. Freescale Inc. bought by NXP Semiconductor NV. Freescale Semiconductor Ltd.’s acquisition by a European company was finalized. The $11.8 billion deal with NXP Semiconductors NV was completed and the Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition on the condition that NXP sell off its radio frequency power business. Austin-based Freescale (NYSE: FSL) develops chips used in automobiles, consumer products, telecommunications infrastructure and industrial equipment. The company was spun out of Motorola Inc. in 2006 and completed an initial public offering in 2011. It now employs 17, 500 workers.

Industry observers were not surprised when Austin Ventures LP — once the region’s most active and powerful backer of local technology startups — officially acknowledged that it would reduce its activity in early-stage investments and not raise another general fund. The firm has already contracted while focusing on roll-up deals, but the confirmation gave other investors a green light to jump in. At least one of Austin Ventures’ general partners has since led the creation of fund for an unspecified deal.

5: Co-working space and accelerators flourish. Starting a tech company is not as expensive as it once was and venture capital isn’t always the route to success. Instead, business accelerators and incubators have continued to step into the void created by Austin Ventures LP and prove to be a source of capital for local startups. Follow this link to read ABJ’s cover story on co-working spaces.

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