Some people scour sports statistics to stay up to date on their favorite teams or players. Others scour investment news to see if their 401(k) will let them retire in the next fifty years. Me? I scour the news for business acquisitions (when a company buys out another one) to see what’s going on in the business arena. What were the biggest acquisitions of the past year? Here are five noteworthy ones from 2012 and 2013.
Pinterest Acquires Punchfork
I’ll be the first to admit that before the news came out about this purchase I had never heard of Punchfork. However, after reading an article about the details of the acquisition (i.e. how many Benjamins were spent) and checking out the site I realized how amazing this site is… or was.
I can see why Pinterest bought them out, both these sites are very similar in appearance. Punchfork’s homepage is very visually appealing with rows and rows of delicious looking food, and one click onto the Food & Drink board of Pinterest and you’ll see nearly the same layout.
Where the sites differ though is their search function. With Pinterest, it can’t use the title of the picture to determine its content and which category it belongs in. They rely on pinners to choose the most appropriate category for their image and using the pin description to tell what the picture is of.
Why does this matter? If you’re in a hurry to post a tilapia recipe you just found online and you accidentally categorize it in ‘Gardening’ instead of ‘Food & Drink’ (it happens sometimes because the categories are right next to each other in the drop down area… just saying), then when people search ‘Gardening’ instead of finding pins of flowers and dirt, they’ll also find your tasty recipe. Not at all helpful for either group searching.
With Punchfork, you can click on the picture of the recipe you want and up comes a page that gives you all sorts of useful information; the link directly to the recipe (you won’t have to click 10 different links to find it), ingredients, preparation, directions, and recipe stats. This last feature is one that I really liked, you can quickly see how many tweets, Facebook shares, StumbleUpon views, and Pinterest Pins. There’s a rating from 1-100 to show how much this recipe has been talked about and shared online. The higher the number, the more it’s been talked about.
The down and dirty reason why I really liked Punchfork is because of its clean and simple design that makes made it so flipping easy to find a recipe in a hurry. I love Pinterest and will still use it, but man, if I had known about Punchfork earlier my boyfriend would’ve been eating a lot better food (ask me about the ‘cheesy chicken recipe’ story sometime that I made from a Pinterest pin).
What does this rambling (and probably way too much information) have to do with anything? Business acquisitions are everywhere and happening each and every day. Some are great, some have funny endings, and some are just suckey for the fans. In no particular order, here’s some from the past year that stuck out in my memory.
Facebook Acquires Instagram
Do you remember the day it was announced that Facebook was buying Instagram? April 9, 2012 was a day where you couldn’t go on any website or social network without knowing about this acquisition. Instagram users were up in arms about what the new changes would be and concerns over privacy were brought up. However, time has quieted the masses and up until a few weeks ago Instagram users seemed to be okay with the acquisition.
Zynga Acquires OMGPOP
This was one of my favorite acquisitions this year not because I love the two companies, but because of the aftermath when OMGPOP was bought. For those who don’t know, OMGPOP is a multiplayer gaming website, “a place to hang out, play free online multiplayer games, and make friends.” They were best known for “Draw Something,” an app that was hugely successful and one that nearly every smartphone user had on their phone. In its first 50 days on the app market it was downloaded 50 million times.
So, what does Zynga (a competitor do)? Buy them out. Zynga bought them for $183 million at the peak of Draw Something’s success and has been defending their purchase decision ever since. You see, after the deal went through, a funny thing happened. Users grew tired of the game and stopped logging in to play every day, which means fewer eyes see advertising that brings in all the money for the free app. Whoops! Some acquisitions are better and more successful than others, buying out OMGPOP was the exact opposite of what Zynga was trying to achieve.
Disney Acquires Lucasfilm
While you were out rushing to find Halloween candy on Oct. 30, news had come out that Disney had gone on a little shopping spree of their own. They had purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion (half in cash and the remaining in 40 million shares of stock) and the news was just breaking. Why the sudden acquisition? The same reason why people make wills, so their favorite possessions are passed onto the people they want to receive them and not be sold in an estate sale to strangers;
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.” – George Lucas, chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm
One man can’t live forever, so instead of worrying what would happen to his cherished and beloved film studio after his passing, he decided to be proactive and make sure he got a say in what happened.
Disney is no stranger to buying up film studios and franchises. They seem to buy them up the same way you or I would buy a pair of shoes; in 2006, they acquired Pixar Animation Studios and later in 2009 they purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion further solidifying their worldwide entertainment domination.
Avis Acquires Zipcar
How many car rental companies can you list off? Hertz, Enterprise, Budget, Alamo, Thrifty, National Car Rental… I think that’s all of them? With that much competition, any advantage you can get is going to help you out big in the long run. In the summer of 2012 they switched taglines from “We Try Harder”, which had been used for the last five decades, in favor of “It’s Your Space” to try and attract the busy business travelers.
Another way they’re going to attract them is with their recent purchase of Zipcar. This car-sharing business has grown more and more each year as urban dwellers are getting rid of owning a car in favor of renting a car hourly as needed. Avis purchased the company for around $500 million right at the beginning of this year and news about the acquisition has yet to stop buzzing.
2012 was a huge year for company acquisitions and so far 2013 is shaping up to follow suit. Whether you find out about the acquisitions after they happen and miss out on a kick-ass website (sorry, I’m still a bit bitter about Punchfork) or are thrilled by the news, you can rest assured knowing that there’s another bigger acquisition moments away from happening.
Which acquisition surprised you the most in 2012? Are you hoping for any particular company to buy out another in 2013? What past acquisition shocked you the most and are still a bit bitter about it? Get it off your chest and shout off in the comments below!