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The year of the Zebra

Zafar Anjum | May 9, 2014
This Zebra’s stripes got more interesting after the Motorola Enterprise acquisition

Rod Rodrigues

Rod Rodericks, Vice President & GM for Zebra Technologies APAC 

In a surprise announcement on April 15, enterprise asset intelligence company Zebra Technologies said it was acquiring Motorola's Enterprise business for US$3.45 billion in an all-cash transaction.

Years ago, Motorola had sold its mobility unit to Google and now it was washing its hands off of its enterprise business too. Why was Motorola set upon a path of self-annihilation? Was it looking for some kind of corporate nirvana by shedding some of its worldly possessions? Or was it the case of selling the family jewels? And who was this Zebra that was happily shopping around in Motorola's stables?

There were many questions.

When the news broke, the acquisition was seen as a major move by Lincolnshire, Illinois-headquartered Zebra Technologies which had hitherto been known for its RFID and real-time location solutions.

Zebra Technologies Corporation, listed on NASDAQ since 1991, is a global leader in manufacturing, retail and healthcare technologies and offers an extensive portfolio of visibility solutions incorporating barcode, RFID and location systems.

Though the news got leaked one-day ahead of the announcement, the company had succeeded in keeping it under wraps for months. "In terms of formally getting into negotiations, it has been going on since last October," Rod Rodericks, Vice President & GM for Zebra Technologies APAC, told CIO Asia. "I personally was made aware of it towards the end of last year."

Motorola's Enterprise Business sold for US$3.45 Billion to Zebra Technologies

A bold move

A company, with a market cap of US$ 3.5 billion, acquiring Motorola's enterprises business is a bold move. "This is also quite unusual," said Rodericks. "A small-sized company acquires a bigger sized company. This is quite a bold move. We are acquiring a company which in revenue terms is two and half times the size. Zebra is around US$1 billion whereas the Motorola division that we are buying is US$2.5 billion. It is a significant undertaking."

Not just in revenue. The company is way bigger in terms of employee size too. Zebra Technologies has over 2500 employees across 26 countries whereas Motorola's acquired division has around 4,000 employees.

Explaining the rationale behind the acquisition, Rodericks said, "It (the acquisition) makes a lot of sense for both companies. Historically, we had a good working relationship with Motorola Enterprise for ten years or more. We know them, they know us. It was a formal marketing alliance. At the sales level, we would do joint calls together. If you look at the extent of the solution, it was really partially Zebra and partially Motorola."

"We know each other quite well," he said. "We are not strangers. We are in the same business. Our route to market is very similar."


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