Where Are All the Startup Acquisitions?

It’s tough times in startupland. Valuations are down and fundraising is hard.

For cash-rich tech giants, it should be shopping season.

But the big boys are sitting it out. From a report out this morning on Crunchbase News:

The four most valuable American companies have enough capital to acquire any startup they desire.

But despite their deep coffers, Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft aren’t doing a lot of buying.

So far this year, the “Big Four” have made just five acquisitions of private, venture-backed companies, per Crunchbase data. Of those, none were known unicorns and only one had a disclosed purchase price. That indicates the rest were smaller deals by tech giant standards.

And it’s not just a few megacaps that aren’t buying. M&A of VC-backed startups in general has fallen this year.

This is a strategic mistake for big tech. When the prices are low, that’s the time to buy!

A downturn is the perfect time for a company like Google to solidify its competitive advantage. It can expand its offerings, making sure it owns the products of the future.

Let’s take an example. I recently came across a new search engine called Andi.

Ask Andi a question, and it gives you an answer in what looks like a text message.

It’s pretty cool! And given how popular texting is, it could be the future of search.

Of course, Google could tell a bunch of engineers to build an Andi knockoff. But Google would start the race way behind.

Or Google could buy Andi for a tiny fraction of its massive cash pile. If this could be the company that disrupts your massively profitable business, why not just buy it and remove the risk?

What’s more, acquisitions are a great way to bring on a bunch of highly skilled people at once. It’s easier to hire a group of great people who are experienced at collaborating than to hire one by one.

And those small acquisitions can have a big impact.

Google bought Android for just $50 million. The company that became AdSense cost them just $102 million.

And yet, big tech isn’t shying away from acquisitions altogether.

Microsoft is acquiring Activision for $68 billion, it’s biggest deal ever. And Amazon is scooping up One Medical, Signify Health, and iRobot in multibillion dollar deals.

With checks like that being written, big tech should pick up some startups for a song while they’re at it. After all, as Jeff Bezos said, “big things start small.”

What are the best acquisitions big tech could make and why? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on tech:

Adam Neumann Was Their Biggest Investor — Now He’s Their Biggest Competitor

Mark Twain: Venture Capitalist

Startups’ Secret Weapon for Recruiting: Their Investors

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Photo: “Jeff Bezos” by jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


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