Market Update

Blockchain: A Capitalist Tool: Our September Infotech M&A Update

September 2018

Dear Clients and Friends,

Summer is over! (Not that we slowed much.)

As you will see from our report below, last month was busy in the dozen+ segments of the information technology industry that we follow and sometimes lead.

Interest in Blockchain-related applications was a continuing theme over the summer. A recent article in Barron’s noted that something like $1.5 billion was invested in Blockchain initiatives in 2018.  For some tech writers, Blockchain is all about shifting power to the masses, whether it’s the power of central monetary authorities or the power of Uber or Facebook. For them Blockchain is “… a technological solution to a political problem.” (As Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of the Hyperledger project, is quoted in the article.)  

The socialist twist on Blockchain is reminiscent of the early days of the Internet, when some pundits asserted that it would make all the world’s information available to everyone – for free (again: “Power to the People”). We saw similar hype with self-publishing (no more being beholden to big publishers); and with websites and blogs that would surely bring down the big media players. (Never mind fake news!) 

We are aware of dozens of firms working on a wide range of Blockchain applications – including Barclays, Broadridge, DTCC, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, IBM and several securities exchanges, banks and tech companies. We think they all have capitalist motives. They believe that Blockchain can change the way people and firms interact in a myriad of industries from healthcare, to aerospace, to insurance, food services and more. We know one using Blockchain to make trade finance more efficient and another that is using it to reduce fraud in the billing process. Others are looking at changing the way banks interact with customers; manufacturers with wholesalers and retailers; institutional lenders with borrowers; and insurance companies with doctors, patients and hospitals. It’s a fascinating time. Stay tuned, and hold tight. (Power to the People?)

Values and trends in our industry are strong – and using the latest tech often helps. Some of the more interesting recent transactions over the past month include our client RapidRatings which we advised on a Growth Equity Investment from FTV Capital. Please find the press release here. Some others include: 

  • Moody’s Corporation (NYSE:MCO) agreed to acquire Reis in an all-cash transaction for approximately $278mm at an implied 5.5x LTM revenue and 37.8x LTM EBITDA,
  • CC Capital, Cannea Holdings and Thomas H. Lee Partners agreed to acquire Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE:DNB) for $6.9bn at an implied 3.6x LTM revenue and 12.4x LTM EBITDA,
  • Oscar Insurance (New York, NY) raised $375mm in a growth funding round from Alphabet,
  • FiscalNote (Washington, DC) acquired CQ Roll Call from The Economist Group Limited for $180mm in cash and stock.

Please feel free to call us if you have any questions on any of the sectors that we follow.

P.S. ACQ Magazine announced its ACQ5 awards in August. We are pleased that they named Marlin & Associates as the Boutique Investment Banking firm of the Year. We always like when our hard work is recognized. Details on the ACQ5 awards can be found here.

P.P.S. We’ll be attending The Futures and Options Expo in Chicago, October 16th-18th, and Money2020 in Las Vegas, October 21-24th. If you’d like to arrange a meeting at either of these events, please contact Scott Friedman at sfriedman@marlinllc.com.

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