According to a Bloomberg article published Monday, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has become the leading global deal maker in the three-year period from 2011 to 2013. The tech giant has consummated a total of 127 deals over the last three years, topping ad firm WPP plc for second and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), who made 121 deals during the period, for third.
In terms of dollar value of deals during the three-year period, however, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was just in third place. Blackstone Group LP at came in first in total dollar deal value at $62.3 billion, General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) was second at $19.9 billion, followed by Google at $17.6 billion total deal value.
Dramatic changes in rankings
There was a major shake up in the top deal maker rankings from 2008-2010 to 2011-2013. Intel was the top deal maker in the earlier triennium, with 103 deals, and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was far down the rankings at 13th place and barely 60 deals.
Google buying spree runs the gamut
Although Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is apparently buying up companies almost indiscriminately, there is actually a method to the madness. It’s just hard to see the forest for the trees.
Google has ramped up its acquisition process since the appointment of Larry Page as chief executive in 2011. Page has authorized spending a good chunk of the company’s current $58.7 billion cash hoard to invest in areas such as connected devices, business services and especially mobile applications.
The mergers and acquisitions group is run by Don Harrison, and the division has expanded by more than 50% over the last couple of years. Google Ventures focuses on start-ups, while the new Google Capital looks to make deals with more established companies.
“It is absolutely starting to feel like a deal machine,” points out Maha Ibrahim, a partner at venture firm Canaan Partners, who has done deals with Google Ventures and Google Capital. “Because they have such a diverse base of interests, you see these acquisitions coming out of left field that have very little to do on the surface with the ad business.”
A few critics are crying foul, claiming Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has an unfair advantage in M&A given its position. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, argues that the tech titan has an unfair advantage over competitors because of its cozy relationships and inside knowledge of so many industries. “Increasingly the question arises — why isn’t there greater scrutiny of Google’s practices?” Rotenberg said.