Top 5 Tech M&A Deals of 2013

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Through the end of October, the tech sector had logged 1,715 M&A deals worth approximately $104 billion, according to Dealogic.

By comparison, the entire U.S. M&A market had totaled 8,313 deals worth $960 billion in the same time period.

Those figures made tech the highest-spending sector in the M&A market through October - and make the top tech M&A deals of 2013 among the most expensive deal making of the year.

Whether the motive was to bolster services already offered or to tap into a new market, it's clear that tech behemoths didn't shy away from spending their cash hoards this year.

Companies like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) are always on the lookout for acquisitions that will diversify and expand their portfolio of products and services. Keeping a hot tech startup away from the competition never hurts either.

That was the story in 2013, and it should continue in 2014. Tech companies like Snapchat, Uber, Square, LivingSocial, and countless others are ripe for IPOs or acquisitions next year.

Take a look at some of the more notable tech M&A from 2013:

Top Tech M&A Deals 2013

1) Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK): When Microsoft acquired Nokia in September, it completed one of the biggest tech acquisitions of 2013.

These two companies initially partnered in 2011 to help standardize the Windows Phone operating system. Then in September, Microsoft agreed to purchase Nokia's phone business and license to Nokia's patents for the steep price of $7.2 billion.

The deal was made in an attempt to bolster Microsoft's mobile business, which has been overshadowed by Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iOS and Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android.

"The idea is simple," said Money Morning Defense & Tech Specialist Michael A. Robinson. "Microsoft is way behind in the mobile tech sector and needs to make a bold move to become a serious player. And now that CEO Steve Ballmer has announced his retirement, the software giant is about to embark on a turnaround plan. I expect that to include more acquisitions into areas with much greater growth than the stagnant PC market."

Nokia was a pioneer in the mobile phone industry and is still the second largest shipper of mobile phones in the world. However, as more consumers switch to smartphones, they've also switched brands. This year, Nokia fell off the list of top five smartphone makers.

Shareholders were not initially pleased with the news, as MSFT shares dropped 6% the day of the announcement. Since then, MSFT stock is up more than 13%.

2) Inc. (NYSE: CRM) and ExactTarget Inc.:

"Customer relationship management" company acquired marketing software company ExactTarget for a price of approximately $2.5 billion in June.

Salesforce started as a sales-automation software company, but has been adding marketing software to its services in recent years. It purchased social media marketer Buddy Media for $689 million in 2012 and social media tracker Radian6 for $340 million in 2011.

ExactTarget is used by more than 6,000 companies including Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) and Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), and the partnership brings major brands into Salesforce's "marketing cloud" business.

Shares of Salesforce have jumped nearly 24% since June.

3) IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and SoftLayer Technologies Inc.: In July, IBM announced that it had completed the purchase of SoftLayer Technologies, a cloud computing infrastructure company for approximately $2 billion.

SoftLayer reported revenue of $280 million in 2010 (before it went private), which means IBM purchased the tech firm for more than seven times its latest reported revenue.

SoftLayer will be combined with the already established IBM SmartCloud to create a global platform. According to IBM, the deal will allow the company to provide the security, privacy, and reliability of private clouds with "the economy and speed of a public cloud."

"Cloud computing provides a profound and transformative change in business and government," IBM General Manager James Comfort said in a statement. "With SoftLayer in IBM's portfolio, it will be easier and faster for organizations to adopt game-changing cloud services."

In the month of July, IBM stock posted a 2% gain. However, the stock has slipped nearly 7% since Aug. 1.

4) Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) and Tumblr Inc.: When Yahoo! acquired the social media blogging company Tumblr in May for $1.1 billion, one of the largest concerns for Tumblr users was that the tech giant would ruin the blogging site with advertisements.

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer did her best to assuage the concerns of Tumblr users. Yahoo! Posted on Tumblr that the site would remain independently operated, much like YouTube has operated under Google and PayPal has under eBay.

That of course left investors with questions of monetization. Mayer insisted that Tumblr will be monetized in a way that is meaningful "to the user experience," so an increase in ads was only a matter of time.

Tumblr brings its 300 million monthly unique visitors and 900 posts per second to Yahoo!, which is just a drop in the bucket for a tech company that generated $5 billion in revenue in 2012. Yahoo's Chief Financial Officer Ken Goldman expects revenue and material gains from Tumblr in 2014... although he didn't put a number behind that goal.

5) Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Waze: Back in July, Google shelled out approximately $966 million for Israel-based mobile mapping application company Waze. At the time of the acquisition, it was rumored that Facebook and Apple were both interested in purchasing the startup, but Google walked away with the prize.

Waze allows users to report on traffic conditions while they're on the road and thus help others map their routes according to traffic patterns. For Google, the incorporation of Waze creates user interaction that is missing from Google Maps.

"The acquisition is expected to enhance our customer's user experience by offering real time traffic information to users' daily navigation needs," Google said in a statement.

GOOG is currently trading at an all-time high, above $1,050 per share. Year to date, the stock has climbed an impressive 49%.

The best tech investments can be difficult to find. Michael Robinson has been searching for the best tech stocks of 2014, and has pinpointed four that could be huge winners in the New Year.

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