IBM recently acquired Red Hat for a whopping $34 Billion , which made it the largest tech acquisition of this year.
But how does it stack up along the other big tech acquisitions of this millenium, we take a look at most significant acquisitions that promised to change the industry.
10. AOL acquired by Verizon ($4.4 B), 2015
AOL (short for America online), for many was synonymous to internet itself. The AOL website was used to be the portal to internet for millions of users in the early age of internet and used to provide variety of content including news, games, etc.
Once upon a time, AOL was as big in stature as the Googles and Apples. Since then AOL has gone through multitude of changes in business model as well as owners.
In it’s current form AOL is a only shadow of it’s former self.
Verizon acquired AOL in 2015 for $ 4.4 B, bringing an end to a saga and eventually merged it with it’s subsidiaries to form a division called “Oath”
9. Yahoo! acquired by Verizon ($4.5 B), 2017
A company with a very similar history and downfall as AOL, Yahoo! used to be the most popular website in US, before starting it’s downfall in the late 2000’s.
Yahoo! was once the most popular landing page for internet users and also the most popular human edited web-directly (precursor to a Search Engine).
The downfall of Yahoo is staggering if you consider that in 2008, Microsoft (more about them in a moment) proposed a buyout worth $ 44.6 bllion, which was rejected stating formally that it “substantially undervalued” the company.
Three years later, Yahoo! had a market capitalisation of only $22 billion, half of the valuation proposed by Microsoft.
Of and let’s not forget that Yahoo! laughed off a proposal from Google to acquire them for $1 million, to be fair, it wasa Yahoo! subsidiary, AltaVista.
8. Nokia acquired by Microsoft ($7.2 B), 2013
Another one of those companies who became synomous with their entire industry, Nokia used to be the mobile phone industry!
But in 2013, the ill-fated acquisition by Microsoft underlined a series of mistakes that resulted in Nokia losing it’s market share from leader to desperately trying.
It’s iconic Nokia 3310 model has a passionate fan following and is often joked as nearly indestructible, which eventually became a meme.
The fact that it was almost true did help though.
However, it didn’t turn out well for Nokia as Microsoft eventually wrote off the entire amount.
7. Microsoft buys Github ($7.5 B), 2018
Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion acquisition of Github is one of the most significant events in the current era of technology because of the importance of Github in the whole developer community and the open source movement.
Github‘s free respositories of software source code forms the foundation of today development environement that enables developers and tech enthusiasts alike to build applications in hours using the readily available source code from Github shared by it’s 40 million users & contributors.
How will Microsoft use this to their advantage and try to make money? Is anybody’s guess at the moment, but if they start charging subscriptions for the free services currently provided by Github it would be a significant blow to the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community.
6. Skype bought by Microsoft ($8.5 B), 2011
To some it was a surprise when Microsoft decided to acquire Skype, since it already had it’s own MSN messenger for general users and Lync for the enterprise user.
However, unlike Nokia, where Microsoft couldn’t bring about progress in the Nokia brank, Skype was integrated into it’s core collaboration platform for the Enterprise customers leading to Skype for Business
Both Skype and Skype for Business have seen adoption and received good reception turning this into one of Microsoft’s better buys.
5. Whatsapp bought by Facebook ($19 B), 2014
Facebook’s acquistion of Whatsapp was seen by many as either a masterstroke, or a last ditch attempt to capture mobile based social network audience dominated by Snapchat and it’s elk. Facebook’s own messenger has seen low adoption leading to it being launched as standalone app to gain brand recognition, and has since seen continued work to gain a larger foothold.
Hence, the $ 19 billion acquisition in 2014 was heralded by Facebook as a stroke of genius and it would add 600 million immediate users to Facebook network and further speculated to grow to over 2 billion active users in a decade.
So far Facebook has not actively tried to monetize Whatsapp, infact they have done away witht he $1 per user per year subscription model and made it totally free, but knowing Facebook’s track record, it’s only a matter of time, however, if so it happends, the user reaction may be averse with a lot of them moving over to alternatives like Telegram.
4. LinkedIn acquired by Microsoft ($26.2 B), 2016
Linked has been around since 2003, and was publicly listed in 2011 and is arguably completely ownes the professional social networking domain, so Microsoft’s decision to acquire and it’s valuation of $26+ billion wasn’t a surprise to anyone.
LinkedIn with it’s approx 600 million hardly has any competitors and is a pillarstone of modern day professional networking with it being used by influencers, to job seekers and headhunter.
With LinkedIn a market leader (arguably LinkedIn is the market itself), and further growth looking strong this is one of Microsoft’s better acquisitions.
3. ARM acquired by SoftBank ($32 B), 2016
This is an odd one out in this list since SoftBank Group is not really a technology company, instead, it’s ab investment and holding company but it’s origins lie in SoftBank Corp. which is a telecommunnications business.
SoftBank which is widely known due to its investments across the industry from MNCs to startups, acquired ARM for $32 billion.
With ARM’s semiconductor business booming in mobiles and tablet’s this acquisition is widely believed to be a good one so far.
2. IBM buys Red Hat ($33.4 B), 2018
IBM spashed out a whopping $33.4 B to acquire Red Hat making it the larget tech acquistion of the year, the largest buy by IBM in their history.
The acquisition arguably makes IBM the biggest hybrid cloud player.
With Red Hat being a market leader in Enterprise grade Linux, IBM’s move at the time seems tactically smart.
However, similar to the Microsoft’s Github acquistion, there has been apprehensions around IBM’s intention as Red Hat contributes massively to several Open Source projects including the CentOS project which is a community developed version of Linux based on Red Hat.
(For a more detailed coverage go to here.).
1. EMC acquired by Dell ($67 B), 2015
In what is a David vs Goliath kind of saga combined with grandeur of a Hellanic opera, Dell’s acquistion of EMC for $67 billion is the largest tech acquistion ever, not just terms of the value but also it’s potential impact on the technology industry.
At a time when Dell itself was only valued around $30 billion, it went ahead with it’s ambitious effort to acquire EMC. The acquisition would open an opportuity for Dell to foray into the potenltially $1 trillion Enterprise IT Infrastructure business, where Dell was limited to laptops.
EMC’s capabilities in storage, backup, and virtualion solution, supposedly will enable this growth. Unfortunately, the widesclare adoption of Cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, AliCloud etc, Dell’s vision will be challenged.