10 years of acquisitions show how Big Tech came to be

5 Jul 2019

Image: © Fotoschlick/Stock.adobe.com

Calls to break up Big Tech are growing, and this infographic shows how the major tech companies grew through acquisitions.

Last year saw a number of significant tech acquisitions, with IBM acquiring Red Hat for a deal valued at $34bn and Microsoft snapping up GitHub for $7.5bn.

‘Big Tech’ didn’t get to be so big without gobbling up some smaller fish on the way, and now we’ve reached a point where the giants in the pond can spend billions on the other big fish.

Lately, calls to break up Big Tech with suitable antitrust regulation have been increasing. One of the loudest voices among them is US senator Elizabeth Warren, who has focused on a Big Tech break-up as part of her 2020 presidential campaign.

Warren has specifically cited how major tech companies use mergers and acquisitions to limit competition. “Facebook has purchased potential competitors Instagram and WhatsApp. … Google has snapped up the mapping company Waze and the ad company DoubleClick. Rather than blocking these transactions for their negative long-term effects on competition and innovation, government regulators have waved them through,” she wrote.

Using a decade of data from Crunchbase and Fortune, RS Components has compiled a chart showing how the likes of Google, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and more have augmented their growth through acquisitions.

These companies maintain their competitive lead with strategic acquisitions from pioneering start-ups to established innovators. Google is streaks ahead with 182 recorded acquisitions in the 10 years from 2009 to 2018 – more than double that of Microsoft in second place with 89.

In this particular period, Apple made 81 acquisitions, representing almost all of the major M&A transactions in the company’s history. Not since Steve Jobs was brought back into the company with the acquisition of NeXT Computer for $400m in 1996 has the company seen such acquisition activity.

Infographic charting the acquisitions of 16 major tech companies, placing Google at the top with 182.

Click to enlarge. Image: RS Components

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic