Here are four inexpensive and low profile acquisitions by the big four tech firms that proved to be game-changing:
Apple – NeXT (1996)
Apple’s remarkable run to the top was never an easy ride. The company faced an existential crisis many times and one such period arrived in the late 1990s. But thanks to a surprise deal in 1996, the tech giant was able to weather the storm quite well.
The acquisition of NeXT Software provided the company with a modern operating system foundation to replace the outdated ‘classic’ Mac software. Along with the software, the deal led to the infusion of a new management team from NeXT. The new team helped the company fix ‘bad management’ issues while imbibing a focused approach that benefited the company greatly in years to come.
The acquisition of NeXT also famously brought Steve Jobs back to the company he had co-founded twenty years earlier.
Google is known to have perfected the art of acquisition. The search giant has been purchasing one startup every year since 2001, and many of them have delivered exponential returns. You might already be aware of Android but it’s unlikely that you would have heard of Urchin, a $30-million buy that brought similar returns for the company.
Google owes a lot to the web analytics software acquisition for its continued domination in the online advertising and publishing industry.
The deal led to the formation of present-day Google Analytics, a web traffic analysis tool that is an important clog in Google’s advertising solutions. The analytics software is said to be the backbone of the search giant’s cash cow, Google Adwords that allows advertisers to serve targeted ads to their customers. This service requires a constant supply of data and Google Analytics is a major source of it.
No other tech company does better than Facebook in developing countries. The company’s decade-long efforts combined with strategic acquisitions have taken the social media platform to every corner of the world. A lot of credit for this goes to its ‘Free Basics’ initiative and ultra-light version of the app that runs even on basic phones and slow internet.
The key to this strategy has been the $70 million acquisition of Sanptu, which helped the tech giant develop the Facebook Lite app that works even in areas with less bandwidth.
The deal ensured that Facebook continued to add new users even as it reached stagnation in developed markets.
Amazon – Elemental Technologies (2015)
The Amazon Web Services, which brings in over $10 billion revenue for Amazon each quarter, wasn’t always this big. The crucial component of the e-commerce giant was built over the years through both internal efforts and acquisitions.
One such little-known but the crucial purchase was Portland’s Elemental Technologies. The video processing startup was acquired for $296 million in 2015 and has since been a vital clog for AWS.
The acquisition allowed AWS to provide integrated solutions to efficiently and economically scale video infrastructure.
Many online streaming platforms today use Amazon’s AWS to serve content to their customers.