The battle to evolve and stay relevant is what drives a lot of the decision-making at major technology companies. To do this, many buy up small companies.
Since 2014, Google has been the dominant mergers and acquisitions (M&A) force in the tech world, leaving Facebook, Apple, Salesforce and what was Yahoo trailing in its wake.
New figures from Statista and CB Insights show that Google’s thirst for acquisitions peaked in 2014 (35 deals were done that year, almost as many as its four rivals combined) before a tailing off in the years since.
In that time, only Salesforce has upped its game.
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Google has acquired more than 100 companies since 2012, including Eyefluence last year, with significant investments into companies already in the portfolio – such as €1.4bn into the Irish arm of its Verily life sciences division – showing an obvious intent to evolve.
Interestingly, some of 2016’s largest VC-backed acquisitions came from non-tech companies. GM snapped up Cruise, Walmart went for Jet.com and Unilever acquired the Dollar Shave Club. Each deal was worth more than $1bn.
Of course, it’s not all about buying up what’s on offer – research from within is prominent, too.
For example, between 2009 and today, around 52,000 patents have been filed by Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook put together.
However, if it’s a fishing expedition, Microsoft is trawling its way to success, representing almost one-third (more than 16,800) of that total figure. Google (14,500) is not far off, with Apple (13,420), Amazon (5,186) and Facebook (2,508) rounding out the top five.
Outside of these tech giants, the IBM innovation engine continued to crank out those prized patents in 2016 with an impressive number of 8,088, followed by Samsung (5,518) and Canon (3,665).
This is the first time that any company received more than 8,000 patents in a single year, and put IBM top of the patent list for the 24th year in a row.
“We are deeply proud of our inventors’ unique contributions to the discovery, science and technology that [is] driving progress across business and society, and opening the new era of cognitive business,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chair, president and CEO.
It is understood that more than 8,500 IBM inventors in 47 countries are responsible for the tally.