The below inspired me to pen this post.
This little exercise is long overdue. We now have heaps of historical data for location technology acquisitions, and since I know understanding the past is critical to manage the present and plan for the future, I'll use this historical M&A data to claim the following top 10 location technology acquisition candidates.
- Intermap. Tops in the top content category, 3D LIDAR long-timer Intermap is in the midst of major transitions from a contract services company to a product company. They need help. Anyone smart enough to snatch them up will have a complete North American and Western Europe 3D data set equal to Microsoft and Google.
- Xora/Gearworks. After merging in August 2009, these two together now command the US enterprise mobility space built around carrier partnerships and broad handset portfolio support. They're almost large enough to start annoying Trimble.
- UMapper. There aren't many smaller players left in the GIS/mapping category. Most are now too large for acquisition or have an acquisition incompatible mismatch between investments, revenues, and exit multipliers. UMapper is still small and on the cusp. They need someone else larger to help propel them across the chasm.
- Skyhook. Ted Morgan brought Skyhook from a NAVTEQ Challenge semi-finalist to one of the most prominent players in the positioning space. iPhone will award that status. Cupertino should just get on with it and branch out a location technology office in Boston.
- Loopt. Not because they are a social location player in a red-hot emerging social location category, but because they do it differently (and better) from others with the help of wireless carriers, and because they have broad reach beyond smartphones. Another mainstream social net with a diverse global subscriber base could benefit from Loopt's know-how to reach the masses publishing through a variety of mobile modes.
- U-blox. Probably one of the only remaining independent GPS semi providers, it just follows the historical pattern of semi acquisitions for a larger provider to take over U-Blox.
- TechnoCom. A Fast-50 in SoCal and like most other silent infrastructure players, most folks haven't heard of TechnoCom. They touch nearly every US wireless location transaction and manage nearly all carrier 911 QA systems. Intrado or TCS would make good parents.
- Appello. Like the GIS category, players in the Navigation category are either too large for acquisition or have an exit-incompatible mismatch between existing investments and revenues. That doesn't help in a market where free is becoming the new consumer expectation. Appello is still small enough for another handset provider or carrier to get in on the action and offer a solid feature to boot.
- Sarantel. The best GPS Antenna in the market, hands down. If Apple gets serious about owning the entire location tech hardware stack and strives for superior performance, they (or someone else in the hardware category) should consider adding Sarantel.
- Layar. Augmented Reality still needs to prove itself as a money-making mode to browse the world, but maybe it won't have to. It's likely most smartphone providers will offer AR features themselves. Those that need a head start and an existing content publisher community should consider Layar.