The goal of “Trending and Top of Mind” is to provide readers with a brief summary of the deals and industry news that Bowen Advisors is focused on, as well as links to the blogs and news sources that we found most informative.

Here’s what’s trending and top of mind at Bowen Advisors:

Vonage Acquires Vocalocity for $130M  |  October 10, 2013

  • BA: Evidence of further consolidation in the Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) and hosted VoIP market, Vonage acquired Vocalocity for $130M (including $25M in stock consideration. Though more on the tangential, contact center side of UC, we also saw Echopass get acquired by Genesys this week (to add to their other 2013 acquisitions: Soundbite, Angel.com, and UTOPY). As the serial, buyside M&A advisor to BroadSoft, we have had a front row seat to the UC market’s evolution and M&A activity over the past 10 years. Though not surprising given the advent of the cloud, in the last 12 months it seems that, finally, the big boys and the service providers are hungry to get a piece of the UC pie.

VMware Acquires Desktone  |  October 15, 2013

  • BA: In a 2005 memorandum titled “Internet Software Services” to Microsoft’s top managers and engineers, Bill Gates wrote that he believed Microsoft’s demise was imminent with the advent of the proverbial “cloud.” He assumed the robust foundation of the Internet would “unleash a services wave” that would not only disrupt his control of the enterprise and SMB desktop market, but also take it over because of the cloud’s ability to rapidly scale and reduce costs significantly across almost any user base. In other words, an enterprise solution just as effective as Windows but delivered as a cheaper service via the Internet would surely be developed. Not so fast, Bill. Luckily for him, most of us eat, sleep and breathe Microsoft Office in the respective industries where we work and are as attached to Office as we are to our smartphones – and for good reason. Life without Windows would mean life without Office, which would inevitably wreak havoc on most, if not all, of our daily professional duties and tasks. Desktone, a leading developer of a hosting platform that allows desktops, notably Windows, to be delivered as an outsourced subscription service, has made a very good case for eradicating Bill’s concern. VMware’s recent acquisition of Desktone brings virtualization for delivering Windows desktops and apps as a cloud service into the hands of one of the biggest and most advanced technology players in the world – one of the poster childs of innovation, especially in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, which may be the most important space for shaping the future of how we do things. Time will tell whether new buzzy nomenclature and technology like desktop-as-a-service, or DaaS, sticks and becomes a viable tool but history suggests that VMware has an incredible knack for being ahead of game-changing trend curves.

Deutsche Telekom talks SDN  | October 16, 2013

  • BA: A major, buzz worthy trend in technology today is Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Despite debate around the exact definition of this market (and it cousin Network Functions Virtualization – NFV, which we define as the OSS-level application of SDN technology) analysts are all talking in tens of billions of dollars for the Total Addressable Market (TAM) and significant growth rates for the next 5-10 years. SDN, like mobile, cloud, and social before it, has the potential to be THE technology trend of the post 2012 era – enterprises and service providers cannot afford to let their networks get in the way of deploying new, competitive solution offerings. That being said, success for SDN technology start-ups will be driven by customer requirements and vendor preferences, so we will likely see vendors repackaging legacy solutions with an SDN wrapper fall by the wayside.

SEC releases long-awaited ‘crowdfunding’ rules | October 23, 2013

  • BA: Hold on to your hats all of you cash-strapped entrepreneurs!  Small businesses and startups are about to get a big helping hand from our friends at the SEC. On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced a proposal that would allow unaccredited investors to make small investments in companies that are raising up to $1 million in a given year.  Congress hasn’t weighed in yet – and may add some additional measures that are designed to protect the mom-and-pop variety investor – but there seems to be strong support in Washington for the loosening of regulations around private company/venture investing.  Where venture investing has long been reserved for those with liquid assets of more than $1 million or incomes of greater than $200,000, it now appears that those with thinner wallets can also get into the game. What will this mean for all of those trendy urban cupcake shops, quirky on-line consumer products companies, and the guy in his garage with the next big idea?  Probably a chance to try their hands at building businesses.  What will it mean for the budding ventures capitalists out there?  That’s not quite as easy to predict.  But, if we can take a lesson from the last 30 years of professional venture capital investing, we can probably say with a high degree of certainty that a lot of people are going to lose their hard-earned money.  That’s not to say that others will not see really nice returns.  There will certainly be success stories.  And who’s to say that some savvy micro-investors might not hit it really big? As long as all parties enter into the arena with eyes wide open, and accept the risks inherent in early-stage investing, then crowdfunding may do just what it is supposed to do: provide a new pool of readily available capital to hungry entrepreneurs, and give regular Joes a shot at finding the next Twitter. Caveat emptor!