Where Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition fits in with the most expensive tech acquisitions ever


It seems the end of one era and the beginning of another.

Microsoft, which somehow managed to stay out of the social network business until 2016 (aside from some investments into Facebook), now finally has a platform to call its own.

With its acquisition today of LinkedIn for $26 billion, Microsoft not only gains a new business unit, it also acquired some 430 million potential new customers for its cloud and software services.

Let’s take a look at how the acquisition measures up to the rest.


10. Microsoft buys Skype ($8.5 billion, 2011)

It seemed at one point everyone wanted a piece of Skype.  Before video calling took off, the software company was owned by eBay and changed hands to a group called Silver Lake Partners in 2005 and 2009 respectively.  Everyone began to see the potential of the platform in 2011, however, when Google, Facebook and Microsoft all sought to acquire the company.  Microsoft won out in the end.

Autonomy software

9. HP buys Autonomy ($10.3 billion, 2011)

At one time, HP was the king of acquisitions. Less than a decade after buying Compaq for $17.6 billion, HP decided to make another big purchase.  As in the case of Compaq, its acquisition of software maker Autonomy in 2011 proved unwise; HP admitted a year later that it had overpaid for the company, accusing Autonomy of cooking the books.

Since the deal turned sour, the companies have resorted to finger pointing, with both HP and Autonomy execs fired in the process.


8. Oracle buys PeopleSoft, ($10.3 billion, 2005)

Oracle did not have an easy time acquiring PeopleSoft.  The company, which today is the second largest software maker by revenue (after Microsoft) spent a year and a half aggressively going after rival software maker PeopleSoft.  It finally came to friendly terms in 2005 when it offered $10.3 billion in cash, or $26.50 a share, for PeopleSoft, up from $9.2 billion or $24 a share which it had previously claimed was its last offer.


7. Google buys Motorola ($12.5 bn, 2011)

In what may sound like a bad deal on paper, Google paid $12.5 bn for Motorola’s mobility business only to sell it to Lenovo for $2.91 billion a couple years later. Yet, this would be to misunderstand Google’s strategy for buying Motorola in the first place.

Unlike most other acquisitions, this was about Google acquiring patents (which the search giant retained after the sale to Lenovo) to defend itself against Apple rather than have an integrated hardware maker. In the end, with the purchase process and delays applied and Lenovo’s payment factored in, Google only paid about $3.5 billion for Motorola’s patent portfolio.


6. Symantec buys Veritas ($13.5 billion, 2005)

In what would be a decade in the making, storage management software maker Veritas Software Corporation was purchased in 2005 and only reemerged as Veritas Technologies Corporation under Symantec this year.

During this time, the software developer was first integrated into Symantec before the latter announced (last October) it would be splitting off the subsidiary, which now handles information management.  With the purchase, however, Symantec gained access to Veritas’ various Fortune 500 clients.

Electronic_Data_Systems_logo.svg EDS

5. HP buys EDS ($15.4 bn, 2008)

The second largest of HP’s giant acquisitions was for EDS (Electronic Data Systems), an infrastructure, applications, and business process outsourcing service provider.

Despite the huge sum, price per share for EDS was only $25. The company itself was quite large, with 210,000 employees worldwide. The deal was approved unanimously by both HP and EDS boards of directors.


4. Facebook buys WhatsApp ($19 billion, 2014)

Is $19 billion too much to pay for an app?  Not if you’re Facebook, and not if your goal is to simply amass as many users (and their data) as you can.

The 2014 deal which may have costed the social network up to $22 billion when all was said and done, netted it more than just a hugely popular internet-based messaging app, it also came with 450 million users.

In January this year, WhatsApp’s user base had grown to 700 million.

Satya Nadella Microsoft Build 2016

3. Microsoft buys LinkedIn ($26 bn, 2016)

There is a new acquisition in third place, and the title goes to Microsoft. The spot was formerly held by Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp.

At $26 bn, this deal would become not only the third largest tech acquisition of all time, but also Microsoft’s largest acquisition under CEO Satya Nadella. However, he is far from the first executive to try to put a stamp on the company with an acquisition.


2. HP buys Compaq ($33.6 bn, 2001)


The purchase of Compaq was, arguably, one of the worst deals in the tech industry. Back in the days when HP was looking to grow rather than shed parts left and right, it acquired the PC maker at a staggering $33.6 bn. This was despite both companies struggling before the acquisition was announced.

The deal that was touted as a shake-up for the industry led to a drop in stock prices to less than half, and was accompanied by accusations of vote-buying among shareholders. Then-chief executive and most recently U.S. presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina was fired for trying to put her stamp on the company.



1. Dell buys EMC ($67 bn, 2015)

In what has now become the largest tech acquisition of all time, and one of the largest in any industry, hardware maker Dell purchased storage giant EMC last year for a whopping $67 bn.

The latter will now be renamed to Dell Technologies. The acquisition will mean that Dell will become relevant in four major areas, namely servers, storage, virtualization and PCs. The company wants to be an end-to-end technology provider.

Time Warner

Honourable mention:  AOL buys Time Warner ($106 billion, 2000)

It’s hard to talk about Salesforce’s price tag of $55-70 billion without recalling the biggest tech acquisition of all time.  While AOL paid the twelve-digit figure for the media corporation, the former has all but faded in part due to the dot-com bust.

How would a Salesforce acquisition by Microsoft fare today?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Yin
Dave Yin
Digital Staff Writer at Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel.

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