We’ve steadily ramped up our production of corporate M&A content this year in response to reader appetite for that type of coverage. Posted below is a recap of our most popular posts on the subject from 2016.

Catch up on more of our year-end recaps here.

M&A
Image source: The Blue Diamond Gallery
M&A

AI Acqui-hires

The biggest names in tech and social media have made many a headline-grabbing acquisition this year. Some of the more interesting pickups are due to the increasing importance of machine learning techniques and an emphasis on training AI on the massive datasets generated by popular services, such as Facebook’s newsfeed.

Before 2014, there hadn’t really been an impressive amount of acquisition activity here, but that has since changed. And top talent in the industry can command well over $1 million per head.

To be or not to be…the company that acquires Twitter?

After strategic acquirers like Google (NASDAQ: GOOGLE) and Disney (NYSE: DIS) passed on the prospect of hooking up with Twitter (NYSE: TWTR), interest from Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) involved considerations of customer service opportunities and the relatively cheap price per user of the social media platform.

The prospect that Twitter could be acquired draws together two significant storylines in social media. The first concerns what happens to a platform after its meteoric rise starts to fizzle. Will the result involve it fading into the night of media consolidation? Does its once revolutionary service represent a mere channel that the likes of a Disney could use to distribute its content to new audiences? The second storyline involves Big Data—namely the large amount that users generate and that an acquirer might use to improve the AI fueling its own services. But surely Twitter is something more than the sum of those parts, no?

Dell & EMC close biggest tech deal ever

That’s right. The biggest tech transaction in history. Though in order to achieve the promise of $1.7 billion of savings through synergies over the next year or so, Dell reportedly plans to lay off 2,000 to 3,000 employees working in areas such as supply chain management, administrative and marketing positions.

The anticipated result of the newly-minted Dell Technologies will be a company looking to challenge the big players in the private and hybrid cloud-computing space—not least, of course, is Amazon Web Services, the market leader at $10 billion in sales last year. Both Dell and EMC have spent much of the decade so far picking up a number of cloud infrastructure and management companies as well as cybersecurity firms, acquisitions that will support Dell’s new venture.

Qualcomm & NXP join forces

Highlighting a huge year for the semiconductors industry, Qualcomm agreed to acquire NXP Semiconductors at an enterprise value of $47 billion.

For Qualcomm, the acquisition signals a pivot away from the flagging smartphone sector toward a heavier focus on the IoT. The deal could lead to additional collaboration in the mobile, networking and automotive industries—particularly the latter, as NXP is a leading provider of chips for automakers. Several other deals have emerged this year that follow a similar plot, including Samsung’s $8 billion acquisition of Harman International Industries in November and SoftBank’s completed purchase of ARM for £24 billion in September, not long after the Brexit vote.

GE & Baker Hughes hook up

If the $32 billion merger closes, GE will have accomplished what Halliburton couldn’t after US and European regulators stopped its takeover of oilfield service company Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI) earlier this year.

In order to appeal to oil & gas customers looking to improve efficiency amid the recent price slump, partnerships have become necessary to cut costs and expand services. By merging, GE (NYSE: GE) and Baker Hughes will create the world’s second-largest oilfield services provider, rivaling Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB).

Salesforce’s shopping spree, 2016 edition

Salesforce recently agreed to purchase Twin Prime, a California-based provider of an app performance and improvement platform that uses machine learning to analyze network data in real time.

The deal dials Salesforce’s total acquisitions up to 13 for 2016 and continues to bolster its machine learning capabilities. After passing on Twitter, CEO Marc Benioff kept his acquisitive appetite even though he admitted earlier in the year to not having much of a plan for M&A in 2016. Einstein, the company’s AI, is already being integrated into Salesforce.

Article by Adam Putz, PitchBook