Why Acquisition Speculation Constantly Swirls Around Nutanix
July 22, 2021
You might not have heard of Nutanix (NASDAQ: NTNX) before, but I think this budding leader in the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) space could be an excellent acquisition candidate for a number of tech behemoths looking to bolster their position in an enormous, fast-growing market.
More specifically, Nutanix’s HCI software offers a cutting-edge way for enterprise clients to replace their legacy 3-tiered (that is, compute, storage, and networking) IT infrastructures with a more modern, cloud-based solution. Think of it as a sort of digital “traffic cop,” so to speak, that seamlessly matches applications with the datacenter resources they require – and regardless of which cloud environment its customers are using, whether private or public, hybrid or multi-cloud deployments.
As it stands, this legacy 3-tiered infrastructure market is already worth over $100 billion annually – though Nutanix estimates its current TAM at around $21 billion, growing to $30 billion over the next four years or so. Either way this leaves Nutanix – which boasts a market cap of only $7.5 billion today and expects annual sales of only $1.4 billion this year – with an enviable runway for growth as enterprises navigate to more modern solutions. And that’s not to mention untapped potential given Nutanix’s ongoing efforts to expand its offerings and, in turn, widen customers’ view of it as being more of a robust cloud platform provider rather than merely “just” an HCI vendor – these adjacent markets in hybrid cloud infrastructure and other software-as-a-service offerings (desktop-as-a-service, DB automation, file and object storage, cloud management, disaster-recovery-as-a-service, to name a few), could represent incremental market opportunities collectively worth additional tens of billions over the next few years.
That’s not to say Nutanix is alone in chasing these lucrative opportunities; Dell Technologies-owned VMWare (NYSE: VMW) is arguably its fiercest competitor in HCI and other cloud-management use cases. Formerly a longtime partner of Nutanix, VMWare more recently filed a lawsuit against Nutanix’s new CEO (and VMWare’s former COO) Rajiv Ramaswami for jumping ship – a suit which Nutanix has called “misguided” and an “unfounded attempt to hurt a competitor,” and which legal experts have mused holds little weight.
So which companies might be interested in gobbling up Nutanix to bolster their own businesses?
Well, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) and Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) both reportedly attempted to acquire Nutanix for $4 billion prior to its IPO in 2016 – while Nutanix at the time was apparently seeking a premium closer to the $6 billion to $7 billion range (the high end of which would be slightly below its current enterprise value). Incidentally, while HPE subsequently acquired Nutanix competitor SimpliVity in 2017, just last year tech publication The Information argued Nutanix is still in the crosshairs of not only both of those tech titans, but also Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL) as the cloud-computing titan looks to bolster its own cloud platform offerings.