M&A Creeps Up on Edge Computing Players

Mike Dano
10/16/2019

Edge computing, particularly in the mobile and 5G space, remains more of a theoretical concept than a widespread investment or revenue opportunity. But that isn't stopping some of the biggest companies in the industry from placing some bets on the space.

First up is Intel, which announced the $27 million purchase of Smart Edge from IT company Pivot Technology Solutions. The purchase, which Intel said would close in a few weeks, includes the transfer of 25 Smart Edge employees into Intel's Network and Custom Logic Group (NCLG).

"With Smart Edge, enterprises and communications service providers can enable cloud-like services closer to the user on the customer-premise or network edge. The expansion of computing in the network and at the edge is an important growth opportunity for Intel," the company said in a statement, with Intel VP Dan Rodriguez explaining that the transaction "enhances our ability to address the 5G network transformation with a leading position in edge computing."

As Reuters noted, Pivot reported that Smart Edge didn't generate significant revenue in the first six months of this year, but did lose about $1 million before depreciation and amortization.

However, in its most recent quarterly filing, Pivot said that "after a series of successful use cases, a major customer has agreed to resell the Smart Edge solution across its network," but didn't disclose the identity of the company.

Pivot added that, based on initial testing, Smart Edge's products reduced customers' wide area network costs by 40%, and improved download speeds by 400% due to "caching and better network monitoring and data collection capability with a real time dashboard."

Sniffing around EdgeConneX
But Intel isn't the only one seeking edge computing investments. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the topics, Bloomberg reported that investment firm EQT is in talks to buy edge data center company EdgeConneX. The publication noted the deal could be worth up to $2.5 billion.

That's particularly notable considering EdgeConneX executives earlier this year denied reports that the company had hired investment bankers to explore strategic alternatives or an outright sale.

EdgeConneX is an early mover in the edge computing space; it counts roughly 40 data centers in 30 different markets across the US, Europe and Latin America, ranging in size from 2-50 megawatts.

EQT's reported interest in EdgeConneX is also noteworthy considering the firm teamed with Digital Colony on a $14.3 billion agreement to purchase US fiber provider Zayo. And Digital Colony is affiliated with a number of other data center and cell tower companies.

Other recent investments into edge computing include cell tower owner SBA Communications' recent purchase of a data center in Chicago for the express purpose of learning about the edge computing opportunity.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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