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Visualizing Major Tech Acquisitions (1991-2018)

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Launch the interactive version below, or go to our story for simpler, static images

Interactive: Visualizing Major Tech Acquisitions (1991-2018)

To stay successful in tech, companies must find a way to walk alongside the cutting edge of innovation.

Companies do this partially by devoting a large portion of their resources towards research and development (R&D) – but to hedge their bets, these companies also are in constant negotiations to gobble up new startups that could be strategic to their futures.

In this giant game of Pac-Man, most of the acquisitions are small and sequential, just like the dots that make up the arcade game’s classic maze. That said, sometimes these tech giants get lucky, such as in Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, and buyouts turn into power-ups that can change the dynamics of the game entirely.

Tech Acquisitions by Company

Today’s interactive infographic comes to us from IG and it allows you to compare the tech acquisitions made by dominant companies such as Facebook, Apple, IBM, or Cisco.

Acquisitions can be sorted by industry filters (i.e. e-commerce, security, etc.) and different acquiring companies can be switched in. There are also different tabs that show total M&A expenditures by company, M&A activity by CEO, and frequency of acquisitions measured in quantity per year.

The Big Picture

Before we go into specific acquisitions, let’s look at the big picture using images pulled from the interactive version of the graphic.

Here is a comparison of the number of acquisitions made since 1991, for each major company on the list:

Number of tech acquisitions

Google has made the most acquisitions, averaging about 10 to 11 per year. That adds up to a total of 214 since the company was founded.

Tech acquisitions by dollar amount

Interestingly, while Google has had the most acquisitions, it only ranks in 6th out of this group in terms of dollars spent. Giants like Microsoft, Cisco, and IBM may make fewer acquisitions, but the companies they do buy tend to be more established with higher valuations.

As an example of this: Microsoft bought LinkedIn in 2016 for $26.2 billion. That’s more than Amazon has spent on all of its acquisitions (including Whole Foods) combined.

The Big Five

Finally, here’s a comparison of the big five – Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google (Alphabet) – which are also the five largest companies by market capitalization in the United States.

The Big Five Tech Companies

On the interactive version, it’s possible to highlight each acquisition to get the deal value and company name.

But, even on the static version above, it’s noticeable that each of the Big Five has made at least one real sizable acquisition. Those are the circles that stand out the most on the timeline:

  • 2011: Google buys Motorola for $12.5 billion
  • 2014: Facebook buys WhatsApp for $19 billion, and Apple buys Beats for $3 billion
  • 2016: Microsoft buys LinkedIn for $26.2 billion
  • 2017: Amazon buys Whole Foods for $13.7 billion

The gobbling activity for these Big Five has continued into 2018, as well.

In fact, just in June 2018, Microsoft announced the acquisition of code repository GitHub for $7.5 billion. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

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Animation: The Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap Over 23 Years

In business, the only constant is change – and for tech companies, this is even more true. Here are the biggest tech companies over 23 years.

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The business world is certainly not a static one.

In the past, we’ve shown that the market leaders in the most stable industries are unlikely to keep their leadership positions over long periods of time.

But limit your window to just the dynamic world of tech and you’ll see an even more extreme example of this inherent volatility. Sometimes companies are able to separate from the rest of the pack for days or months, but it’s never an advantage that lasts for long.

Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap

Today’s animation was originally posted to Reddit by /r/TheNerdistRedditor and captures the crazy world of tech valuations for public companies.

Watch the intense 1 minute animation below:


Note: the data here only lists companies traded on U.S. exchanges, and does not show every single valuation point.

Over just 23 years, the company topping the list flips eight separate times – and if you were to get more granular with the numbers (looking at daily valuations, for example), you’d see it happen far more often.

Today’s Market Cap Leaders

As we noted above, company valuations are constantly changing – and back in early September 2018, both Apple and Amazon even topped the $1 trillion milestone for a short period of time.

Using the same criteria as the above animation, which is based on U.S. listed companies, here are the top 10 tech companies based on data at time of publication:

RankCompanyTicker(s)Market Cap (March 18, 2019)
#1MicrosoftMSFT$902 billion
#2AppleAAPL$887 billion
#3AmazonAMZN$856 billion
#4AlphabetGOOG, GOOGL$824 billion
#5AlibabaBABA$471 billion
#6FacebookFB$458 billion
#7IntelINTC$243 billion
#8CiscoCSCO$236 billion
#9OracleORCL$192 billion
#10NetflixNFLX$159 billion

Based on March 18, 2019 data

This is not a comprehensive list globally, as it misses companies like Tencent which are listed on other exchanges such as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Based on recent HKD/USD conversion rates, it’s estimated that Tencent would be roughly worth $450 billion today – good enough for 7th on the list.

Regardless, since change is the only constant in the tech world, it’s fair to say that the above list of the biggest tech companies will likely be much different in just a few months time.

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Chart of the Week

The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game – here are the countries and regions projected to contribute the most to global growth in 2019.

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The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game.

As long as the data adds up to economic expansion on a worldwide level, it’s easy to keep the status quo rolling. Companies can shift resources to the growing segments, and investors can put capital where it can go to work.

At the end of the day, growth cures everything – it’s only when it dries up that things get hairy.

Breaking Down Global Growth in 2019

Today’s chart uses data from Standard Chartered and the IMF to break down where economic growth is happening in 2019 using purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Further, it also compares the share of the global GDP pie taken by key countries and regions over time.

Let’s start by looking at where global growth is forecasted to occur in 2019:

Country or RegionShare of Global GDP Growth (PPP) in 2019F
China33%
Other Asia (Excl. China/Japan)29%
United States11%
Middle East & North Africa4%
Euro Area4%
Latin America & Caribbean3%
Other Europe3%
Sub-Saharan Africa2%
Japan1%
United Kingdom1%
Canada1%
Rest of World8%

The data here mimics some of the previous estimates we’ve seen from Standard Chartered, such as this chart which projects the largest economies in 2030.

Asia as a whole will account for 63% of all global GDP growth (PPP) this year, with the lion’s share going to China. Countries like India and Indonesia will contribute to the “Other Asia” share, and Japan will only contribute 1% to the global growth total.

In terms of developed economies, the U.S. will lead the pack (11%) in contributing to global growth. Europe will add 8% between its various sub-regions, and Canada will add 1%.

Share of Global Economy Over Time

Based on the above projections, we were interested in taking a look at how each region or country’s share of global GDP (PPP) has changed over recent decades.

This time, we used IMF projections from its data mapper tool to loosely approximate the regions above, though there are some minor differences in how the data is organized.

Country or RegionShare of GDP (PPP, 1980)Share of GDP (PPP, 2019F)Change
Developing Asia8.9%34.1%+25.2 pp
European Union29.9%16.0%-13.9 pp
United States21.6%15.0%-6.6 pp
Latin America & Caribbean12.2%7.4%-4.8 pp
Middle East & North Africa8.6%6.5%-2.1 pp
Sub-Saharan Africa2.4%3.0%+0.6 pp

In the past 40 years or so, Developing Asia has increased its share of the global economy (in PPP terms) from 8.9% to an estimated 34.1% today. This dominant region includes China, India, and other fast-growing economies.

The European Union and the United States combined for 51.5% of global productivity in 1980, but they now account for 31% of the total economic mix. Similarly, the Latin America and MENA regions are seeing similar decreases in their share of the economic pie.

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