A Brief History of Acquisitions: Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft, and IBM

gymi 300x223 A Brief History of Acquisitions: Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft, and IBMAardvark, reMail, Picnik, DocVerse, Simplfy Media, Episodic, PlinkArt, and more.  Can you find the common thing connecting these companies? Well. This is a partial list of companies acquired by the giant Google, just this year alone.  The latest victim that got added to the list is the ITA software, the back bone of travel search industry.

Google is making acquisitions at a mind-boggling rate. It looks weird, if a week goes by and Google does not buy any company.  You may start to wonder what’s wrong with Google or the US economy? In April alone Google bought five companies (two in February, three in March, Two in May, and One in June). So far this year Google has made 14 acquisitions. Google’s acquisition spree trigger a lot of interesting questions.

Is Google Alone in the World of Startup Prowlers?

Startup prowling Google is widely perceived as evil, just based on the frequency at which it buys startup companies. Growing companies do acquire/invest in other smaller companies. Is “14 acquisitions” in just six months, a normal thing for a growing company? Is Google the only company that laps up startup companies? Are we seeing more of Google acquisition stories, just because of the internet age we are in?

What about the other tech companies, like Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft, and IBM? How did they behave on buying companies?  How do the previous decade’s official “evil” companies, like Microsoft and IBM, compare with Google’s acquisitions?

A Glimpse of the History of Acquisitions

Here is a simple minded comparison of the acquisitions made by these top tech giants, completely disregarding the values of the acquired companies. (A business professional can do a comprehensive analysis and make a nice case study on the history of acquisitions. )

Total Number of Acquisitions in the Last Decade

Comparison of the total number of companies acquired by Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft, and IBM in the last decade reveal a few interesting facts. Microsoft tops the list, closely followed by IBM and Google. Apple is at the bottom of the list with acquiring the least number of companies.

image2 A Brief History of Acquisitions: Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft, and IBM

A Look at the Yearly Acquisitions

A look at the yearly acquisitions in the last decade tell more about the phase of a company’s growth. Except for the last few years Microsoft has been pretty active over the decade. It clearly shows the growth phase of Google over the decade and also Yahoo’s peak over 2004-2008. IBM’s acquisition rate does seem to be pretty steady. IBM has been buying 5-10 companies every year.

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A look at the acquisitions does not tell the full story on how successful a company is? In the last decade, Apple has come back to the top company list with successful products, like iPod and iPhone. Still Apple has only made a few acquisitions. On the other hand Yahoo has acquired many companies, but it seems to be on the wane.

Google is Evil, While Apple is Not

If the number of acquisitions is the metric for defining how evil a company is, Apple is the least evil company and Google is next in line after Microsoft and IBM. At this rate of acquisition Google will definitely overtake both Microsoft and IBM pretty soon.

Here are the list of companies acquired by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and IBM from Wikipedia