Report Card: Grading Microsoft's Ten Billion-Dollar Acquisitions

Microsoft has a sketchy record when it comes to buying up companies. How will its acquisition of GitHub pan out?
 
 

Microsoft has become infamous for spending billions on companies that quickly lose value under its control. The track record has improved somewhat under CEO Satya Nadella, who has promised its acquisition targets more independence from the Redmond mothership.

Considering Microsoft’s announced intention to buy GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock, here’s a report card on 10 acquisitions that exceeded $1billion.

Visio Corp.

2002, $1.47 billion
Microsoft successfully integrated the flowchart software into Microsoft Office

 

Navision

2002, $1.3 billion
The Danish enterprise resource planning company's software became an essential part of Microsoft Dynamics, but that didn’t slow down Salesforce.

 
aQuantive

2007, $6.3 billion
The leading digital advertising agency lost its talent and its value within a few years after Microsoft acquired it. Microsoft wrote off $6.2 billion of the acquisition.

 

Fast Search & Transfer

2008, $1.2 billion
The Norwegian company’s system for searching internal corporate databases became a key component of Microsoft’s hugely successful SharePoint offering.

 

Skype

2011, $8.5 billion
Although Microsoft initially expanded Skype’s market share, its 300 million or so users pale in comparison to the 1.5 billion users of WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook.

 

Yammer

2012, $1.2 billion
This acquisition was going to be core to Microsoft’s social enterprise strategy. After six years of going nowhere with the messaging software, Microsoft is investing in Yammer again, and could yet turn this around and be a real competitor to Slack.

 

Nokia

2013, $7.2 billion
Microsoft’s push into smart phones was a bust. It wrote off $7.6 billion, more than it initially paid for the Finnish mobile phone giant.

 

Mojang

2014, $2.5 billion
The acquisition of the Swedish maker of the popular videogame Minecraft was a home run.

 

LinkedIn

2016, $26.2 billion
By leaving it alone, and without any real competition, Microsoft has let LinkedIn keep growing. Maybe Microsoft has something up its sleeve, but so far it doesn’t seem as if Microsoft is getting $26.2 billion worth of benefit from the platform.

GitHub

2018, $7.5 billion
Microsoft says its acquisition of this platform for sharing open-source software shows its commitment to developers and to the open-source community. Many others are withholding judgment.

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