Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox… Who has bought the most start-ups?

by bold-lichterman

  • 736 acquisitions of tech start-ups were recorded in 2105, more than double compared to 2011. 2016 should be marked by a slowdown in this type of operations (-10%).
  • Dropbox is the unlisted company that has made the most start-up acquisitions since its creation (23 in total).
  • Before their IPO, Twitter had bought 31 start-ups and Facebook 29.

In 2015, 736 start-up buyouts were announced, more than double compared to 2011 according to CB Insights data.

The number of start-up acquisitions by other tech companies is booming, as evidenced by the latest transactions announced this summer: Randstatt, which buys Monster for just under 400 million euros, Switch (Amazon ) which gets its hands on Curse, or Salesforce which acquires MetaMind. Globally, the number of recorded transactions of this type more than doubled between 2011 and 2015, according to data CB Insights.

Who are these companies with external growth strategies, or who are leading the concentration movements in their market?

If we consider the top 10 companies identified by the research firm and having carried out the most acquisitions, we see a strong predominance of the United States (6 out of 10 companies). Two Indian companies are also included. Note that there is no Chinese company in this ranking established on the basis of CB Insights data. In terms of activity sector, the most active companies belong to the e-commerce sector (3 companies out of 10).

Slight drop in acquisitions expected in 2016

Where the research firm counted 334 acquisitions in 2011, it recorded 595 in 2014 (an increase of 78% in three years), and 736 in 2015 (up 24% in a single year).

If we are to believe his estimates, 2016 should however mark a slowdown in the trend, with 663 transactions expected at the end of the year, which would be equivalent to a drop of nearly 10%. At the end of August, 442 acquisitions had already been announced for 2016, or nearly two-thirds of the expected transactions.

31 acquisitions for Twitter before its IPO

In terms of acquirers, Dropbox tops the most active unlisted companies, with 23 acquisitions recorded since 2000. For example, we remember the acquisition of CloudOn announced at the start of 2015, for a undisclosed amount, which allowed the company to gain a foothold in the Israeli market, or that of Pixelapse, announced a few weeks later.

Other listed companies that have opted for an external growth strategy: Foodpanda, which has acquired 15 companies since its creation (in 3rd place in the CB Insights ranking), Pinterest and its 14 acquisitions (ranked 4th) or even Snapdeal and AirBnB, who have each made 11 acquisitions since their creation. It should be noted that Docker, an American company created by French people, comes in 17th with its 8 buyback operations.


Finally, if we consider the number of acquisitions made by tech companies today listed on the stock exchange, before their IPO, Twitter is the first (31 transactions recorded in the space of 6 years) followed closely by Facebook and its 29 buyouts in 8 years. It should be noted that the analysis of CB Insights does not mention Google (Alphabet), yet very active on the subject, as evidenced by its recent acquisition of Orbitera, for an amount that could reach 100 million dollars.

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