Nord Security and Surfshark have announced plans to join forces, in what is arguably the biggest merger or acquisition the VPN industry has ever seen. This comes just 72 hours after we wrote about the close ties between the two brands.
Although figures have not been disclosed, we believe that the value of the combined entity will surpass that of the new arch rival formed by the acquisition of ExpressVPN by Kape in September 2021, a deal worth nearly $1 billion. Intriguingly, Surfshark and NordVPN disclosed that the agreement marks the end of a process that started in mid-2021, likely before the ExpressVPN deal took place.
While NordVPN has been around for nearly a decade, Surfshark’s rise has been nothing short of meteoric, rapidly becoming one of the most popular VPN brands in the world, according to Google Trends data. In separate statements, both companies confirmed they will “continue to operate autonomously and rely on separate infrastructure and product roadmaps”.
A security behemoth
The combined entity will operate a number of brands, in line with the usual divide-and-conquer strategy common across the SaaS industry.
Nord Security has Nord VPN, its premium VPN brand, Atlas VPN, its entry-level freemium VPN, NordLayer, its B2B network access security solution, NordLocker, an encrypted cloud storage solution, and NordPass, an advanced password manager.
Nord Security brings more than 15 million users and 1000 employees to the table, while Surfshark has over 200 employees and one million paid users. Both brands place in the top three spots across almost all major VPN rankings.
So, what comes next? Tom Okman and Vytautas Kaziukonis, the co-founder of Nord Security and founder of Surfshark, declined to provide any hints.
However, we would be surprised if an IPO based on a multi-billion dollar valuation wasn’t in the pipeline (or at the very least a private equity round), something that would give them a war chest to acquire more brands and bring in more features.
2022: The year of the big VPN consolidation
“Go big or go home” is probably the most appropriate saying to describe the transaction. As Google and Apple have launched their own VPN-cum-privacy solutions, it was only a matter of time before the smaller companies rushed to consolidate their positions. It started with J2Global (the owner of PCMag), then Kape, and now NordVPN.
Expect more consolidation to happen as the largest players in the VPN world raise the stakes. Who could be next? PureVPN, one of the oldest brands around? ProtonVPN, very popular amongst the privacy-first community?
Here are three scenarios we wouldn’t discount:
- Microsoft and Amazon could both launch their privacy solutions as part of Microsoft 365 and Amazon Prime, respectively
- The big VPN providers will start to gravitate towards security brands and offer more features to compete toe-to-toe
- The schism between paid providers and mobile freemium ones will continue to grow