With their cash reserves reaching hundreds of billions of dollars, tech giants buying competitors for massive sums of money has become a routine.
Update 1/17/2014: Added Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest, the smart thermometer company.
Here are eight huge tech acquisitions that happened over the last five years, compared to each other and to the national Gross Domestic Products they’re closest to (courtesy of the World Bank):
Below $1.5 billion:
- $1 billion: Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in 2012, which despite having around 100 million users, has no revenue.
- $1.1 billion: Promising not to “screw it up,” CEO Marissa Mayer announced that the ageing search engine/media company Yahoo! would buy out the relatively young Tumblr.
Below $15 billion:
- $1.65 billion: In a major move on the emerging video streaming market, Google bought newcomers YouTube in 2006, integrating with its own, less popular Google Video feature.
- $3.1 billion: Somewhat similar to the YouTube acquisitions, Google shouldered out the advertising space competition from DoubleClick in 2007.
- $3.2 billion: Reflecting analysts’ views that we’re moving towards an “Internet of things” where all electronics are connected, Google acquired the “smart thermometer” manufacturer Nest in 2014 (not added to the last chart to avoid clutter).
- $5.4 billion: With their recent shift in focus from software to hardware, it made sense for Microsoft to acquire the struggling Nokia’s mobile devices business in 2013.
- $8.5 billion: Citing a desire to integrate its online telephony services into its existing services, Microsoft announced that it was buying Skype in 2011.
- $12.5 billion: Similar to Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia, Google acquired Motorola in 2011 in order to promote, and build, Android phones.
Below $150 billion:
- $130 billion: By far outsizing the other transactions here, however, is Verizon’s major move to buy out Vodafone’s ownership shares, priming it for competition with AT&T.
The only one on its scale, the price of this acquisition fits right in between the GDP of Hungary ($125 billion) and New Zealand ($139 billion). It’s also $40 billion higher than the New York State total budget of 2013-2014.