Facebook's WhatsApp Mega Deal: 5 Rivals

After Facebook's WhatsApp deal, pundits couldn't get over the price. But consider these five other sky-high acquisitions from the last decade.

Kristin Burnham, Senior Editor, InformationWeek.com

February 22, 2014

4 Min Read

7 Facebook Wishes For 2014

7 Facebook Wishes For 2014

7 Facebook Wishes For 2014 (click image for larger view and slideshow)

Facebook's blockbuster $19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp this week left many wondering whether the social network had gone mad. The price tag, which includes $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook shares, and an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units, tops many tech acquisitions.

Facebook is no stranger to pricey buyouts. In the last 10 years, it snapped up sites ranging from competing social networks -- including FriendFeed in 2009 for $47.5 million -- to mobile companies, including app developer Snaptu in 2011 for an estimated $60 million to $70 million. Facebook's $1 billion acquisition of photo-sharing app Instagram in 2012 raised eyebrows, but pales in comparison to its latest deal.

Although Facebook's spending spree has been costly over the years, it hasn't been the only company to plunk down a pretty penny for another business. In the last decade, top tech acquisitions have ranged from $10.3 billion for Oracle's acquisition of PeopleSoft to nearly $14 billion for Hewlett Packard's purchase of Electronic Data Systems.

[WhatsApp, Facebook's latest acquisition, is impressive in its own right. Read Facebook's WhatsApp Buy: 10 Staggering Stats.]

Here's a look at five other mega tech deals in recent years -- excluding telecom deals, such as Verizon's $130 billion acquisition of Vodafone.

1. $13.9 billion: Hewlett-Packard acquires Electronic Data Systems.
On May 13, 2008, Hewlett-Packard confirmed that it had reached a deal with PC and printer maker Electronic Data Systems to acquire the company for $13.9 billion, a price tag that many analysts questioned. HP hoped the acquisition would help it compete better with IBM.

Four years later, HP confirmed it was writing off about $8 billion after EDS was devalued. The company attributed it to "the recent trading values of HP's stock, coupled with market conditions and business trends within the services segment."

2. $13.5 billion: Symantec acquires Veritas.

Computer security company Symantec agreed to acquire Veritas Software for $13.5 billion in late 2004 to take on the top system management vendors, which included IBM and Computer Associates. The acquisition turned Symantec into the fourth-largest software company.

"The new Symantec will help customers balance the need to both secure their information and make it available, thus ensuring its integrity," Symantec CEO John Thompson said in a statement. "We believe that information integrity provides the most cost-effective, responsive way to keep businesses up, running and growing in the face of system failures, Internet threats or natural disasters."

3. $12.5 billion: Google acquires Motorola.
Google CEO and cofounder Larry Page announced the company's acquisition of Motorola on Aug. 15, 2011. The $12.5 billion deal would strengthen Google's patent portfolio, Page said, which had 17,000 patents with 7,500 more pending.

"Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anticompetitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies," Page said.

4. $11.1 billion: Hewlett-Packard acquires Autonomy.
On Aug. 18, 2010, Hewlett-Packard announced it was acquiring British software maker Autonomy for $10.3 billion. Two years later, HP once again wrote down a huge sum of an acquisition -- $8.8 billion -- effectively admitting that Autonomy was worth 79% less than HP paid for it.

According to The New York Times, HP attributed the write-off to what it called a "willful effort on behalf of certain former Autonomy employees to inflate the underlying financial metrics of the company in order to mislead investors and potential buyers." It continued: "These misrepresentations and lack of disclosure severely impacted HP management's ability to fairly value Autonomy at the time of the deal."

5. $10.3 billion: Oracle acquires PeopleSoft.
After an acrimonious 18-month battle, Oracle finalized its acquisition of PeopleSoft in late 2004 for $10.3 billion. The standoff included a hostile corporate takeover attempt and numerous lawsuits, including one from the U.S. Department of Justice to block Oracle on the grounds that the deal would break antitrust laws. In September 2004, that lawsuit was rejected by a U.S. Federal judge.

Following its PeopleSoft acquisition, Oracle cut more than half of PeopleSoft's workforce, laying off 6,000 of its 11,000 employees.

Engage with Oracle president Mark Hurd, NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle, General Motors CIO Randy Mott, Box founder Aaron Levie, UPMC CIO Dan Drawbaugh, GE Power CIO Jim Fowler, and other leaders of the Digital Business movement at the InformationWeek Conference and Elite 100 Awards Ceremony, to be held in conjunction with Interop in Las Vegas, March 31 to April 1, 2014. See the full agenda here.

About the Author(s)

Kristin Burnham

Senior Editor, InformationWeek.com

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior writer. Kristin's writing has earned an ASBPE Gold Award in 2010 for her Facebook coverage and a Min Editorial and Design Award in 2011 for "Single Online Article." She is a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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