There was a time before the “Great Recession” when a cluster of companies were seemingly always bidding against one another to acquire the hot startup of the month. The core of that group consisted of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, AOL and News Corp. But while AOL and Yahoo still buy companies — AOL bought HuffingtonPost and Yahoo is in the running for Hulu — they’re no longer as aggressive as they once were.
For its part News Corp unloaded MySpace earlier this year (a name now synonymous with decline or failure) and is now hobbled by scandal. But never fear Facebook may be preparing to fill the vacuum and take its rightful place in the new startup acquisitions club beside Google, Microsoft and Apple.
In the current intensely competitive environment acquisitions are both offensive and defensive, and one of the few ways right now to get top talent. According to a Bloomberg article and interview with Facebook’s Director of Corporate Development Vaughan Smith, the social network is preparing to step up the pace of acquisitions:
The company aims to make about 20 purchases in 2011, up from 10 last year and one in 2009 . . . The company has made 13 acquisitions so far this year, including adding a mobile group- messaging service it rolled out to users this month.
The article suggests that Facebook’s buying will focus on talent acquisition, mobile and UI/design. The article also points out that in battle with Google Facebook has far less cash on hand, though it can make stock-based deals with the allure of an IPO around the corner.