Fourth Industrial Revolution

The 12 biggest technology acquisitions of all time

Jeff Weiner (left), CEO of LinkedIn, with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and Reid Hoffman, chairman and co-founder of LinkedIn

Jeff Weiner (left), CEO of LinkedIn, with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and Reid Hoffman, chairman and co-founder of LinkedIn Image: Microsoft

Chris Parker
Head of Digital Media, World Economic Forum
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The privately owned computer technology company Dell Inc has agreed to buy the data storage company EMC Corp for a record $67 billion. The deal would be the largest technology acquisition of all time – overtaking chipmaker Avago’s purchase of Broadcom for $37 billion earlier in the year and Facebook’s purchase of Whatsapp for $22 billion in 2014.

Falling demand for mainstream personal computers has resulted in Dell seeking to expand into the more lucrative professional and business computing areas, and it has identified data storage as a key growth area for the sector.

The 12 biggest tech acquisitions of all time

These are the 12 biggest technology company acquisitions of all time

1. Dell Inc agrees to buy EMC for $67 billion in 2015

The new deal is expected to close sometime during the middle of 2016. The precise value will depend on the value of a “special stock” included in the deal that tracks the share price in virtual software provider VMWare Inc, which is owned by EMC.

2. Avago Technologies agrees to buy Broadcom for $37 billion in 2015

Avago Technologies announced it would buy rival chipmaker Broadcom in May 2015. The combined company, Broadcom, will be based in Singapore and will be the third-largest US semiconductor-maker by revenue, behind Intel Corp and Qualcomm.

3. Facebook buys WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014

The multibillion-dollar Facebook acquisition of the mobile messaging service Whatsapp was the largest deal ever for a venture capital-backed company.

4. VeriSign buys Network Solutions for $21 billion in 2002

Security software-maker VeriSign acquired the internet-name registrar Network Solutions in an all-stock deal worth about $21 billion.

5. HP buys Compaq for $18.6 billion in 2002

Compaq and Hewlett-Packard competed during the early days of personal computers. Compaq sales slowed in the early 2000s and HP agreed to a takeover.

Although it was announced in June 2001 at a higher price tag, HP closed the deal in May 2002 for nearly $19 billion. The deal remains the biggest completed computer hardware deal in history.

6. HP buys EDS for $13.9 billion in 2008

The Hewlett-Packard Company completed the purchase of Electronic Data Systems Corporation (EDS) for nearly $14 billion in August 2008. EDS was a multinational company started by Ross Perot and headquartered in Plano, Texas. It was known for building a system for allowing bank machines to take in money, but was acquired for its wider IT services business.

7. Symantec buys Veritas for $13.5 billion in 2005

In the largest deal of its kind, the security software company Symantec finalized its purchase of Veritas, a storage management company.

8. Google buys Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in 2014

Google expanded from the search and software industries into the hardware and gadget sector with its largest acquisition to date. Google has since sold off Motorola Mobility for $2.9 billion.

9. NXP agrees to buy Freescale for $11.8 billion in 2015

The chipmaker company NXP Semiconductors NV has agreed to buy the smaller chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. It’s a deal that values the combined company at over $40 billion. The European Commission approved the deal in September 2015 and the combination will be the industry leader within the auto and industrial semiconductor markets.

10. Oracle buys PeopleSoft for $10.3 billion in 2005

The hostile takeover of PeopleSoft by Oracle took more than 18 months to conclude. The deal made Oracle the world’s second-largest seller of business applications software at the time.

11. HP buys Autonomy for $10.2 billion in 2011

Autonomy was a UK company whose products came from research performed at the University of Cambridge. The acquisition was set up to rapidly reposition HP and enhance earnings by expanding the lucrative software services sector.

HP wrote off $8.8 billion of Autonomy’s value in 2012.

12. Microsoft buys Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011

The video chat and voice-call digital operator, Skype, was originally acquired in 2005 by eBay for $2.6 billion. Six years later, Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for the company.

And further in the past

The numbers included above are not inflation-adjusted but most happened within the last decade. The list also excludes spin-offs, telecoms and non-tech transactions.

A notable exclusion is the huge AOL and Time Warner merger in 2000. The internet service provider AOL acquired the media and cable television company Time Warner in the largest ever technology merger.

The profitability of AOL slowed dramatically due to the the dot-com bubble burst an economic recession forcing a goodwill write-off and the reporting of the biggest company loss ever ($99 billion) in 2002.

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Author: Chris Parker is Head of Digital Media for the World Economic Forum.

Image: REUTERS/Babu

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