EMA Best of 2020 — Top 3 Acquisitions, VC Rounds, and Open Source Projects

Torsten Volk
4 min readDec 23, 2020


My EMA Best of 2020 list is based on a combination of my personal opinion as an industry analyst at Enterprise Management Associates and a set of quantitative metrics that are transparently referenced in this article.

There is much room for different opinions. I look forward to discussing those and learning new perspectives from personas within or outside my “sphere.”

Top 3 Acquisitions of the Year — Collaboration, Silicon, and Kubernetes Storage

Slack acquired by Salesforce for $27B

After last year’s $15.3B acquisition of Tableau, Salesforce invests another $27B in the acquisition of the vastly popular Slack collaboration platform. This enables the Salesforce CRM to connect customer activities, customer sentiment, customer use cases, and many other data points directly to the sales lifecycle. But can Salesforce handle its next large acquisition while still “digesting” Tableau? This will be interesting to watch in 2021.

Stock comparison between Salesforce (CRM) and Slack (WORK) for 2020

Arm acquired by NVIDIA for $40B

Arm has been beating Intel at the edge and gained Apple’s favor in 2020. Spending $40B on Arm shows NVIDIA ambition to take its leadership in selling silicon for machine learning and deep learning to a much broader set of enterprise and consumer use cases. Comparing the stock prices between arch-rivals Intel Corp and NVIDIA illustrates that investors regard NVIDIA as the clear winner in the silicon race.

Stock comparison between Intel and NVIDIA for 2020

Portworx acquired by Pure Storage for $370M

Managing and securing data for modern cloud native applications has proven tricky over the previous years. While the Kubernetes container orchestration platform enjoyed its victory lab over the past 24 months, enterprises are struggling to ensure performance, reliability, compliance, and cost control for containerized applications. Pure Storage took the opportunity to grab Portworx, the makers of the Kubernetes-native platform for persistent storage at a very reasonable $370M.

Stock comparison between NetApp, Nutanix, and Pure Storage for 2020

Venture Capital Rounds of the Year: Data, Data, Data

Snowflake’s 479M Series G

The meteoric rise of the SnowFlake data platform that brings together the different personas and applications consuming enterprise operations data with the respective data sources in a fully managed manner. As data accessibility, data governance and security, and data platform scalability are all part of the foundation required to benefit from the promise of machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms, Snowflake’s $479M series G round mad a ton of sense.

Source: Crunchbase

Cohesity’s $250M Series E

Cohesity shows that backup and recovery are only boring topics as long as enterprises do not need to worry about the cost and compliance implications of spreading around their data goodness across data center, public clouds, and edge. The Cohesity story is brilliantly simple and fully focused on offering a turnkey data management and operations backbone that protects the enterprise from operational risk introduced by modern distributed application architecture.

Source: Crunchbase

Confluent’s $250M Series E

Confluent offers the open source Apache Kafka event streaming platform as a managed service, hosted on AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud. This includes self service provisioning and scaling of clusters, automatic upgrades, real time data processing and analytics, and continuous compliance at a very low entrance threshold (free Basic version available). As event streaming constitutes the backbone and key bottleneck for most event-driven cloud native applications, the $250 round of investment into Confluent is little surprising.

Source: Crunchbase

Open Source Projects of the Year: AI, Compliance, and more AI

data source: GitHub / chart source: Enterprise Management Associates

Pulumi: Spotlight on Developer Productivity

Pulumi entered the very difficult infrastructure automation market in 2018, with its key value proposition focusing on enhancing developer productivity by providing access to cloud infrastructure through standard programming languages instead of YAML code. In 2020, the growth of the Pulumi repository on GitHub continued (7.290 GitHub stars on December 23, 2020), overtaking both Chef and Puppet in September, 2020. Very impressive indeed.

Streamlit: Spotlight on Data Scientist Productivity

Source: Streamlit.com

Building application frontends to deliver data-driven charts and dashboards has been holding back data scientist productivity for years. Streamlit offers a framework that automatically adds the required frontend components to the backend application code, enabling data scientists to stop wasting their time on design work.

Bert: Enhanced Natural Language Understanding

Source: Paul Allen Institue for AI

Bert (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) enables the average developer to embed pre-trained learning models that can understand natural human language based on their ability to evaluate individual words within the context of words that come before and after them. Google created Bert to enhance its search engine’s ability to understand search requests in natural language and open sourced the technology in 2018.



Torsten Volk

Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Computing, Automatic Machine Learning in DevOps, IT, and Business are at the center of my industry analyst practice at EMA.