The FTC says it will review all acquisitions by major technology companies, namely Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft, to see if they have violated antitrust laws or otherwise obstructed their competitors.
The agency has asked those companies to disclose all details about the many acquisitions that have taken place over the years. The FTC will have its work cut out: we’re talking about a total of 767 acquisitions made by the five companies since the late 1980s, including 235 companies acquired by Google, 112 by Apple, 101 by Amazon, 82 by Facebook and 237 by Microsoft. That said, each of the five companies has an entire page on Wikipedia dedicated solely to tracking their acquisitions. But filling in the details will be tough.
Throughout their history, the large technology companies have carried out small operations, practically acqui-hires to incorporate strategic people or teams, to huge acquisitions at dizzying prices, such as Motorola Mobility by Google ($12.5 billion), Beats by Apple ($3 billion), Whole Foods by Amazon ($13.7 billion), WhatsApp by Facebook ($19 billion) or LinkedIn by Microsoft ($26.2 billion).
At times, the acquisition rate of these companies has been beyond belief: between 2010 and 2011, Google acquired approximately a company every week. In May 2019, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, stated that his company was acquiring a company every two or three weeks, and that he had acquired 20 or 25 companies in the last six months alone.