Startups

These 16 Baltimore tech companies got acquired in 2021

In an active year, we look back at the local companies that exited — plus, those that did the buying.

Paradox CEO Aaron Matos (left) and Traitify cofounder Dan Sines.

(Courtesy photo)

If mergers and acquisitions are a measure of a tech community’s growth, 2021 was trending up.

An overall look at the companies that were acquired in 2021 shows a range of years active, industries and sizes. Taken together, it’s a snapshot of firms that have grown up in the city, with founders that are now poised to continue growing as part of their new teams, or perhaps form new companies down the line.

Let’s take a look back:

Startups that have been growing quickly over the last several years found a home for software tools inside bigger firms.

Avhana Health was acquired by Amalgam, Rx in January as it looked to continue to grow its data and workflow platform for electronic health records.

In January, speech coaching platform VoiceVibes joined Bigtincan in a move to bolster the company’s sales enablement technology.

In March, Baltimore charitable giving startup Pinkaloo was acquired by philanthropic services company RenPSG, completing a path for Pinkaloo that saw support and investment from within Baltimore, as well as national resources.

Baltimore’s adtech legacy gained another milestone in March, as adtech company STAQ was acquired by Operative. It adds to the ripple effect that continues among technologists that trace their roots to Baltimore’s Advertising.com.

Acquisitions can be a means for firms to grow a presence in the city where they didn’t previously have one.

Downtown Baltimore gained an office of digital growth agency 6teen30 Digital after the UK company acquired TripleDouble Digital in November.

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Cybersecurity was the most active tech area for local M&A in 2021.

One of the year’s milestones came when a trifecta of companies backed by Fulton-based cyber foundry DataTribe were acquired in a month.

In June, Microsoft brought on Fulton-based ReFirm Labs in a move by the iconic tech company to add security capabilities for the Internet of Things.

The next month, Columbia-based Attila Security was acquired by ID Technologies as the latter company looked to add a Maryland presence for the Northern Virginia firm.

CodeDx, a Northport, New York-based vulnerability management system that previously won the DataTribe Challenge, was acquired by Mountain View, California-based electronic design automation company Synopsys.

Elsewhere, Baltimore cybersecurity company Terbium Labs, which started with technology able to help companies detect threats in the dark web, was acquired by a subsidiary of Deloitte in June.

In February, Hanover-based, intelligence community-focused Bridges was acquired by Tysons, Virginia-based Applied Insight in a deal that saw 100 employees remain with the team.

Baltimore’s biotech space was active this year.

Circulomics, a company founded in 2009 by Dr. Kelvin Liu, was acquired by publicly traded sequencing leader Pacific Biosciences in August. As it built, the company got support from Johns Hopkins’ FastForward accelerator, the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology incubator Harbor Launch and Maryland funding and support agency TEDCO.

In December, Avidea Technologies was acquired by Vaccitech, marking an acquisition for a Johns Hopkins spinout that continues to have a presence in the city.

2021 saw many familiar companies that have been in active in Baltimore for more than a decade mark an exit.

Personality assessment company Traitify was acquired by Paradox in August, marking a milestone in a decade run for cofounders Dan Sines and Josh Spears. It took grit, but the company found a path to growth for its product.

In a move connected to Baltimore’s influential edtech community, Sylvan Learning was acquired in September by The Franchise Group, and planned to keep its Hunt Valley presence.

In one of the largest deals of the year, Columbia-based email tech company SparkPost was acquired by Netherlands-based communications platform MessageBird in a deal worth $600 million in April. SparkPost had 250 employees at the time, and grew over more than a decade to become a top sender of business emails for big brands like Twitter, Airbnb, The New York Times and Mailchimp.

Adashi Systems, a public safety software firm, joined Canadian company Versaterm in June, marking a milestone moment for a company with a long-standing presence at Baltimore’s ETC (Emerging Technology Centers) incubator.

In November, digital health education platform Osmosis, was acquired by Elsevier, bringing together a fast-growing, decade-old company which was launched by medical students at Johns Hopkins and a 140-year-old firm.

Several Baltimore cybersecurity companies were among those doing the acquiring.

In January, Ellicott City-based Huntress brought on San Antonio-based Level Effect and its endpoint detection and response product, called Recon.

Columbia-based publicly-traded company Tenable added cybersecurity capabilities in the area of Active Directory with the February acquisition of Paris-based Alsid SAS. A $160 million acquisition of Accurics in September added infrastructure as code tools.

In March, Fulton-based Sonatype acquired Portland-based MuseDev to add capabilities for analysis and feedback on a pull request to the open source code management tools on its Nexus platform.

In May, Columbia-based government software firm GCOM acquired Northern Virginia’s Qlarion, adding a data analytics arm to its work for government’s like Maryland.

Typically investors are the silent winners of an acquisition, but in one case this year a firm was front and center. Owings Mills-based venture capital firm Greenspring Associates was acquired by publicly traded StepStone in July in a deal worth $725 million.

Baltimore event tech teams came together in July, as Event Rebels was acquired by Cadmium, which itself made a series of acquisitions as it looked to grow.

Columbia’s MasterPeace Solutions acquired Full Suite Solutions in October, bringing together cybersecurity companies to combine a presence in the cyber talent hotbeds of mid-Maryland and Northern Virginia.

The workplace shifts taking place were reflected in an acquisition, as well: Fells Point-based SHIFT acquired a software platform and launched as Latch, looking to bring social media tools to teams that are now connecting mostly through digital platforms.

The end of the year brought some of the biggest news, as Baltimore cybersecurity company ZeroFox announced plans to go public.

With this deal, the company said it planned to acquire Portland’s IDX. This came after the acquisitions of Vigilante and Cyveillance that helped the company grow in the year prior. It’s all leading up to a new year in which Baltimore will gain a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.

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