An Analysis of Facebook's First Forty-Nine Acquisitions


Facebook acquired Protogeo Oy, the company behind fitness app Moves, last week. Following the purchase of WhatsApp and Oculus VR, this was Facebook's fifth acquisition this year.

Since 2007, Facebook has acquired nearly fifty companies. While many of the early acquisitions were deemed "acquihires," some of Facebook's more recent purchases point towards a new strategy focused on both immediate value and long-term bets on the future. 

I've speculated about Facebook's moves since I started "watching" the company back in 2006. Their acquisition strategy has evolved over the years and it is hard to accurately predict the company's future acquisitions, but history provides a few patterns worth noting. Facebook is becoming a metaplatform - a conglomerate with multiple interconnected platforms - and its acquisitions are a hint of what we can expect the Facebook of the future to look like.

So I did a little research using Wikipedia and CrunchBase data and the results were interesting enough to want to share them. The infographic below, and the notes that follow it, contain some of the highlights from my analysis.  

Facebook Acquisition Analysis by Esteban Contreras

Facebook Acquisition Analysis by Esteban Contreras

A few things that caught my attention:

  • Most acquired companies are U.S. companies, with the vast majority of them being located in California
  • The only other country with more than one company being acquired by Facebook is Israel
  • The amount paid for most acquisitions is undisclosed
  • Only three companies have sold for $1 Billion or more: Instagram in 2012; WhatsApp and Oculus VR in 2014
  • The number of words in acquired companies is likely irrelevant, but the 4/5 companies acquired have a 1-word company name (note that this includes compound names like "WhatsApp")
  • Few companies, like Instagram, have products that remain to fully operate independently
  • Even fewer companies, like FriendFeed, have services that are accessible but are not actively being managed or enhanced since acquisition
  • Most acquisitions so far have been described as talent acquisitions or acquihires, but 2014 acquisitions seem to show a reversal in that trend
  • Many of Facebook's most buzzworthy acquired talent (i.e. former startup executives) are still at Facebook, leading major product initiatives
  • At least two acquisitions came after a lawsuit
  • February to August seems to be the busy acquisition season for Facebook, with March being the month of highest activity and September appearing to be an off month
  • Facebook has acquired more companies in the first 4 months of 2014 than it did from inception to 2009
  • Facebook acquired more companies in 2011 than in any other year, but 2014 could match or exceed in number of acquisitions
  • Facebook's 2007-2010 acquisitions were mostly in categories that enhanced the core product (i.e. social, utility, email, photos)
  • Facebook's 2011 acquisitions focused on mobile and the trend continues to this day
  • 2014 has been Facebook's most diversified year, with acquisitions ranging from messaging and analytics, to virtual reality and fitness

 

What do you think? Any surprises?

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or send me a tweet.

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.