The 5 Biggest Tech Acquisitions Of All Time

by CXOtoday News Desk    Oct 13, 2015


Dell officially announced that it plans to acquire data storage giant EMC in a deal worth $67 billion. It is the single largest tech-only acquisition of all time. Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski states, Dell, would be able to expand its business and gain entry into a key part of the data storage market. It could help Dell move away from the stagnant PC market and and tap strongly into the faster-growing and more lucrative market for managing and storing data for enterprises. The deal would undoutedly cement Dell’s transition from a consumer-facing company to one focused on technology for the enterprise. 

Read more: In Dell-EMC Deal, What’s Hot, What’s Not

While Dell creates the highest record by acquring EMC, here’s a look at some of the largest tech acquisitions of the past decade, measured in 2015 dollars. 

2) Facebook acquires WhatsApp

In October last year, Facebook wrapped up its landmark $21.9 billion acquisition of the mobile messaging service WhatsApp that it announced in February 2014. The acquisition is expected to strengthen Facebook’s footprints in mobile messaging, especially in the emerging countries such as India, Brazil and Indonesia where mobile is becoming a lifeline for communication.

“A $19 Billion valuation is a jaw-dropping deal. But by acquiring WhatsApp, Facebook got a much-needed boost to its portfolio. FB users were complaining dearly about the lack of personalized socializing and sharing, which WhatsApp clearly has been successful with,” says Vidya S. Nath,Director, Digital Media, Global Innovation Center (GIC), Frost & Sullivan. 

At present, WhatsApp is the most globally diverse messaging service. It now has more than 900 million users, doubling its audience at the time Facebook Inc. announced the deal. It remains unclear, though, whether WhatsApp will turn into a major moneymaker for Facebook.

Read on: What Makes Facebook-WhatsApp A Win-win deal?

3) HP’s takeover of Compaq

Hewlett-Packard Co. buys Compaq for about $19 billion in 2002. The deal was championed by then-CEO Carly Fiorina to become a stronger rival to computer maker IBM, despite facing internal challenges. The acquisition helped establish HP’s status as the largest maker of personal computers for many years, but the deal has lost its shin as sales of desktop and laptop machines have declined with the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets.

According to a Fortune article published on February 7, 2005, “The HP-Compaq merger was a big bet that didn’t pay off, that didn’t even come close to attaining what Fiorina and HP’s board said was in store. At bottom, they made a huge error in asserting that the merger of two losing computer operations, HP’s and Compaq’s, would produce a financially fit computer business.”

Even today, the company is laying off thousands of people from the Enterprise Services division it created largely out of its EDS buy, and it’s involved in litigation with former Autonomy execs after writing off $8.8 billion in value from that acquisition.

4) Google buys Motorola Mobility

Google buys Motorola Mobility Holdings for $12.4 billion in 2012. The Mountain View company primarily bought Motorola for its portfolio of 17,000 mobile patents, but Google also inherited an unprofitable division that made smartphones.

Edward Jones analyst Josh Olson on a post blames Google’s earnings misses for several quarters on its continuing losses from its Motorola Mobility unit. Losses from Google’s Motorola Mobility smartphone and tablet unit will also continue to affect its revenues in the coming quarters.

After losing more than $2 billion in less than two years, Google sold Motorola’s smartphone business to the Lenovo Group for less than $3 billion and held on to the patents. 

5) Oracle-Peoplesoft acquisition

Oracle Corp. buys PeopleSoft for $11.1 billion in January 2005, putting an end to a rancorous 18-month struggle between the two companies and making PeopleSoft, once a key supplier of enterprise application software, a wholly owned Oracle subsidiary. Larry Ellison said then that his company needed the acquisition to give it the size and heft it requires to compete effectively in the applications market.

More importantly, the purchase of the HR software firm turned Oracle into a more formidable rival to SAP in the market for business management applications.