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Big tech's buying spree

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 26 May 2020, 9:31 am

Not everybody has been hunkered down and waiting it out over lockdown. Some businesses - notably giant tech companies - have been on a buying spree. Or maybe scooping up companies is the kind of BAU that even a global pandemic can't disrupt.

Over the weekend the Wall Street Journal reported since lockdowns began in US the top five tech companies (or divisions of these companies) - Apple, Facebook, AWS, Google and Microsoft - all acquired, or agreed to acquire, businesses. Here's a summary of the purchases.


Apple's notable purchase was NextVR, a virtual reality streaming company. The California-based company broadcasts live and recorded events for virtual-reality headsets. According to The Verge, NextVR is also developing augmented reality glasses. VR and AR technology has yet to really go mainstream, but clearly Apple wants to ensure its doesn't miss out if/when it does.


Probably the most high-profile tech acquisition (reported to be US$400m) during lockdown was Facebook's purchase with Giphy, which enables users to search for and share animated GIF files. This acquisition is not just a play for more data, according to some analysts Giphy can track how and where an image is shared, so will provide Facebook with even greater understanding of user behaviour.


A company that makes tech that provides a better experience when using a bigger company's tech is then bought by the bigger company. That appears to be the reason why AWS acquired DataRow, whose main product is a web-based client for the Amazon Redshift cloud data warehouse. The purchase is the first time AWS has bought a Turkey-based start-up, so good to note that AWS shops globally.


Also shopping in the global marketplace is Google, which bought Pointy, an Ireland-based e-commerce start-up for a (reported) US$163m, which sells a device used by retailers to measure inventory. Google also snapped up AppSheet which enables companies to build mobile apps without having to write a line of code - imagine that!


The big spender in terms of the number of acquisitions is Microsoft which bought, or agreed to buy, three companies. They are Metaswitch Networks, a provider of virtualized network software and voice, data and voice communications solutions, and Affirmed Networks, which offers fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network solutions. As summarised on Microsoft's blog, the acquisitions are designed to bolster its Azure platform. The third purchase is Softomotive, a provider of robotic process automation.


While the theme of this blog post is to show that shopping doesn't stop in a global crisis when you are at the top of the tech game, it is a revealing snapshot of each company's strategy and shows how they are able to further cement their dominance in their chosen field. Apple is boosting its entertainment offering, Facebook is continuing its pursuit of users around the web, Google is driving further into e-commerce, while AWS and Microsoft are bolstering their public cloud platforms.


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