Broadcast Vendor M&A: IBM to Acquire Aspera

Posted by Joe Zaller
Dec 20 2013

IBM announced that it will acquire Aspera, a provider of IP content acceleration technology.

According to IBM, the Aspera acquisition “builds on IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative by allowing businesses to accelerate their digital supply chains between partners and suppliers, and extends IBM’s capabilities in managed file transfer with a complementary set of capabilities to help enterprises further gain control and oversight of their data transfers.”  Aspera’s product offering will be integrated with IBM’s recently acquired SoftLayer cloud infrastructure after the deal closes sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but I did get a bit of insight into the company when I spoke to Aspera CEO Michelle Munson at the IABM Annual Conference, about a week before the deal was announced.

According to Munson, who co-founded Aspera in 2004 with Serban Simu (described in this interview from 2009), the company is self-funded, profitable, and has been growing at double-digit percentages (50% year-over-year according to Munson) since launch.

Munon said Aspera has about 170 employees today, up 80% in the past two years according to this 2012 presentation.  While she did not provide specifics of the company revenue, a back of the envelope calculation based on the company’s employee numbers, and growth in headcount and customer licenses shows that Aspera is one of the larger pure-play software companies in the broadcast industry.

The company’s produces file transfer software based on its proprietary fasp (fast, adaptive, secure protocol), which the company says is “consistently ranked first in every WAN transfer throughput benchmark it was ever evaluated in.”

Although the majority of its revenue comes from the media industry, Aspera also sells into other industry verticals, such as oil & gas, where there is a requirement to move and manage “big data.”

Aspera’s media customers range from broadcast networks, to sports broadcasters, film studios, post-production facilities, and content producers, to internet companies including Amazon, Netflix, and Apple’s iTunes.

“Our experience working with thousands of clients on Big Data projects tells us that companies can better compete and win when they can quickly extract value from massive volumes of data,” said John Mesberg, Vice President, B2B and Commerce Solutions, IBM. “With this acquisition, IBM addresses a key challenge for globally integrated enterprises by allowing them to move large data files much faster to the individuals who need them, wherever in the world they may be.”

“Our team has redefined how the world’s biggest data can be moved quickly, securely and reliably around the world,” said Munson. “By tapping into IBM’s innovative capabilities and global resources, we will solve ever-expanding data movement challenges for our customers now and in the future.”

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Related Content:

Press Release: IBM to Acquire Aspera to Help Companies Speed Global Movement of Big Data

From Laid-off Engineer To Successful Startup CEO: Michelle Munson of Aspera

Aspera Presentation – What is FAST

Aspera – Media Industry Customer Showcase

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