Interactive: Visualizing Major Tech Acquisitions (1991-2018)
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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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Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone

Smartphones can contain ~80% of the stable elements on the periodic table. This graphic details the critical metals you carry in your pocket.

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Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone

In an increasingly connected world, smartphones have become an inseparable part of our lives.

Over 60% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone and smartphone adoption continues to rise in developing countries around the world.

While each brand has its own mix of components, whether it’s a Samsung or an iPhone, most smartphones can carry roughly 80% of the stable elements on the periodic table.

But some of the vital metals to build these devices are considered at risk due to geological scarcity, geopolitical issues, and other factors.

Smartphone PartCritical Metal
Touch Screen indium
Displaylanthanum; gadolinium; praseodymium; europium; terbium; dysprosium
Electronicsnickel, gallium, tantalum
Casingnickel, magnesium
Battery lithium, nickel, cobalt
Microphone, speakers, vibration unit nickel, praseodymium, neodymium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium

What’s in Your Pocket?

This infographic based on data from the University of Birmingham details all the critical metals that you carry in your pocket with your smartphone.

1. Touch Screen

Screens are made up of multiple layers of glass and plastic, coated with a conductor material called indium which is highly conductive and transparent.

Indium responds when contacted by another electrical conductor, like our fingers.

When we touch the screen, an electric circuit is completed where the finger makes contact with the screen, changing the electrical charge at this location. The device registers this electrical charge as a “touch event”, then prompting a response.

2. Display

Smartphones screens display images on a liquid crystal display (LCD). Just like in most TVs and computer monitors, a phone LCD uses an electrical current to adjust the color of each pixel.

Several rare earth elements are used to produce the colors on screen.

3. Electronics

Smartphones employ multiple antenna systems, such as Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi.

The distance between these antenna systems is usually small making it extremely difficult to achieve flawless performance. Capacitors made of the rare, hard, blue-gray metal tantalum are used for filtering and frequency tuning.

Nickel is also used in capacitors and in mobile phone electrical connections. Another silvery metal, gallium, is used in semiconductors.

4. Microphone, Speakers, Vibration Unit

Nickel is used in the microphone diaphragm (that vibrates in response to sound waves).

Alloys containing rare earths neodymium, praseodymium and gadolinium are used in the magnets contained in the speaker and microphone. Neodymium, terbium and dysprosium are also used in the vibration unit.

5. Casing

There are many materials used to make phone cases, such as plastic, aluminum, carbon fiber, and even gold. Commonly, the cases have nickel to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and magnesium alloys for EMI shielding.

6. Battery

Unless you bought your smartphone a decade ago, your device most likely carries a lithium-ion battery, which is charged and discharged by lithium ions moving between the negative (anode) and positive (cathode) electrodes.

What’s Next?

Smartphones will naturally evolve as consumers look for ever-more useful features. Foldable phones, 5G technology with higher download speeds, and extra cameras are just a few of the changes expected.

As technology continues to improve, so will the demand for the metals necessary for the next generation of smartphones.

This post was originally featured on Elements

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Which Companies Belong to the Elite Trillion-Dollar Club?

Only a few companies have broken the 13-digit market cap barrier to join the $1T+ club. Who’s a member, and who’s hot on their heels?

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Which Companies Belong to the Elite Trillion-Dollar Club?

Just a handful of publicly-traded companies have managed to achieve $1 trillion or more in market capitalization—only six, to be precise.

We pull data from Companies Market Cap to find out which familiar names are breaking the 13-digit barrier—and who else is waiting in the wings.

Footnote: All data referenced is as of August 17, 2021.

The Major Players in the Game

Apple and Microsoft are the only two companies to have shattered the $2T market cap milestone to date, leaving others in the dust. Apple was also the first among its Big Tech peers to ascend to the $1 trillion landmark back in 2018.

CompanyValuationCountryAge of company
Apple$2.48T🇺🇸 U.S.45 years (Founded 1976)
Microsoft$2.20T🇺🇸 U.S.46 years (Founded 1975)
Saudi Aramco$1.88T🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia88 years (Founded 1933)
Alphabet (Google)$1.83T🇺🇸 U.S.23 years (Founded 1998)
Amazon$1.64T🇺🇸 U.S.27 years (Founded 1994)
Facebook$1.01T🇺🇸 U.S.17 years (Founded 2004)

Facebook dipped in and out of the $1T+ club in July 2021, and continues its capricious movement. With just 17 years under its belt, it’s the youngest company ever to reach this valuation milestone—though not without some wild rides along the way.

State-owned oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco is the only non-American company to make the trillion-dollar club. This makes it a notable outlier, as American companies typically dominate the leaderboard of the biggest corporations around the world.

Who Else Might Join the Trillion-Dollar Club?

Companies with a market capitalization above $500 billion are also few and far between. Within this next list of six companies, the world’s most valuable automaker Tesla is another strong candidate to eventually join the Four Comma Club.

As per usual, analyst views on Tesla are quite varied. That said, some on Wall Street are predicting that Tesla might reach $3 trillion in market cap within the decade, owing to significant current and projected demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and driverless systems.

CompanyValuationCountryAge of company
Tesla$659B🇺🇸 U.S.17 years (Founded 2003)
Berkshire Hathaway$655B🇺🇸 U.S.182 years (Founded 1839)
TSMC$576B🇹🇼 Taiwan34 years (Founded 1987)
Tencent$537B🇨🇳 China23 years (Founded 1998)
Visa$515B🇺🇸 U.S.63 years (Founded 1958)

Visa, one of the pioneers of consumer credit in the United States, continues to innovate even 63 years after its founding. In attempts to expand the reach of its already massive payments ecosystem, Visa is experimenting with acquisitions, and even dipping its toes into cryptocurrency with some success.

Whether the next company to join the trillion-dollar club comes from the U.S., from the tech industry, or out of left field, it’s clear that it has some pretty big shoes to fill.

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