I wanted to share an amazing article from Techcrunch with you, which outlines all of the biggest multi-billion Tech acquisitions over the past few years. There is a lesson here about talent which applies to any business, no matter how big or small.


Update 18/03/2014: Thanks to Brittany from Simply Business for getting in contact with me and giving me the link to the original source of the interactive chart, which is at http://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/microsites/hungry-tech

Techcrunch recently published an amazing interactive infographic on the value of acquisitions by the biggest Tech companies over the last couple of years, produced by Simply Business. I strongly recommend you check out the link, as if you hover over their infographic it will show you which company was acquired, and how much it was worth.

What becomes immediately obvious is there are two acquisitions which dwarf all the others: The $19b which Facebook just paid for Whatsapp, and the $12.5b which Google paid for Motorola’s mobile phone unit (which has ultimately been acknowledged as a disaster after it sold it last week to Lenovo for only $2.9b).

One of the most important trends is that there are fundamentally three reasons why companies are being bought:

  1. They are being purchased because they have amazing technology (including patents or products)
  2. They have millions of users which can then turn into users of the purchasing company
  3. They have amazingly talented staff

It’s the third point which I want you to think about. Sometimes, the most important thing you can do for your ongoing business success is bring in new blood, with new skills, new perspectives, and new insights into where the world could be going.

Oftentimes startup companies naturally attract some of the brightest, most talented minds. Importantly, these people and companies are producing something new (oftentimes something innovative as well). They are also likely to be quite loyal to the company they are working for, and so getting them to join your organisation may be difficult.

For large companies like the ones listed in the infographic above, the value of bringing in a large group of talented, motivated new staff could add more value than the cost of the company based on the value of the technology, fans etc.

So what can smaller companies take away from this? I would urge you to take a step back and look at the talent you’ve brought into your company over the past couple of years. How different are they to the people already in the company? The more differentiated the people in the company are, and the more mixing there is between team members, the more innovative and creative you will be long term.

I highlighted this in a previous article on the ideal ratio of new to existing team members, which has been shown to be 50%:50%.

So what do you think the most valuable acquisition were, and which were the biggest flops? Let us know in the comments below, and sign up to our newsletter in order to get innovation insights every week.