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Private Tech Company Acquisitions Are Up: Report

The number of private technology company acquisitions increased 20.1 percent in 2012.
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The number of mergers and acquisitions of private technology companies increased by 20.1 percent between 2011 and 2012 as a result of tech buildup in New York City, talent acquisitions by technology sector heavy-hitters, and large non-technology companies launching online ventures, according to a report released Tuesday.

Conducted by CB Insights, the research found that the number of private technology companies acquired internationally in 2012 was 2,277--a 382 increase from 2011. Acquisition numbers started off strong in 2012 with 632 in Q1 and 626 in Q2, but tapered off over the course of the year, reaching 547 in Q3 and 472 in Q4.

New York is home to legacy names in the finance, fashion, and advertising industries--industries currently being disrupted or enhanced by technological innovations.  Sanwal explained that these industries are clamoring for technology companies, transforming New York into a new venture capital hub and technology start-up incubator. 

Another emerging trend in 2012 was large, traditionally non-technology oriented, corporations purchasing technology companies to gear up for e-commerce overhauls and other web-based endeavors.  Both Wal-Mart and Home Depot purchased companies for e-commerce last year and the Walt Disney Company acquired StudioEX, an online game company.

The largest acquirers of tech companies were Facebook and Google with 12, Cisco with 11, and Groupon with 9. Sanwal said that a lot of the Facebook purchases were talent acquisitions, the trend of large companies buying out smaller ones, scrapping their business, and absorbing their teams into their current talent pool. He expects this trend to increase in 2013.

"There have been a lot of companies that have been formed over the last two years that raised money and won't be able to raise followup capital," Anand Sanwal, the CEO of CB Insights, told Inc.  "Those companies are going to die and some of them may have built an interesting company or have good teams. A lot of corporate development and M&A groups are going to have their good option of assets or teams that have already worked together."

He added that 2013 should see an increase in the number of tech company acquisitions.

"We don't see any reason that the acquisition activity will slow down, barring other macroeconomic factors," he said.  "I expect that the volume of deals is probably going to be pretty consistent or go up."

Sanwal said that his team was most surprised by the fact that 76 percent of acquired companies had not raised venture capital or private equity before being bought out.

"It probably underscores the significance of angel investors and friends and family investing," Sanwal said. "Owners or founders may have just decided 'we're going to have customer revenue finance us--we don't want to have investor dilution and oversight.'"

He he added that, with the significant decreases in technology, entrepreneurs have the means to "bootstrap it" until they have enough customer revenue to support themselves.

 

 

 

Last updated: Jan 30, 2013

SAMUEL WAGREICH | Staff Writer

Samuel Wagreich is a reporter for Inc.com. He covers tech industry culture and trends, entrepreneurship, and issues facing small businesses.




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