Top 10 tech giants to acquire most AI startups since 2009

Technology giants such as Google, IBM, Apple, and Facebook are in a tight race to acquire the most promising AI startups, since 2009. They are investing heavily in AI either to improve their products, make their services more personal, or to reduce the amount of time their production process takes.

But do you know who’s making the most investments?

RS Components, a leading global supplier of industrial components and tools, has analyzed the acquisition records of some of the world’s biggest tech giants over the last decade to see who’s investing the most in AI startups. Using Crunchbase data, they looked at some of the world’s biggest technology companies to see who is investing the most into Artificial Intelligence acquisitions. And guess what? With more than 30 acquisitions, Google is currently leading the charge to buy AI startups.

RS Components also sourced some values from articles that appeared in business and tech websites, including The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, and VentureBeat. Some acquisition costs were sourced as estimates and might not represent the actual value of the acquisition.

Why do big companies buy startups?

  • Speed up innovation – Acquiring key technologies and startups can speed up innovation and bring products and services to the market faster.
  • Cost efficiency – Instead of using smaller companies as their service providers, a big company finds it more fruitful and economical to purchase the entire setup, along with the talent.
  • Talent pool – Merger and acquisition are big opportunities to access talent pool, which plays a key role in the equation.
  • Killing competition – A better way to ensure dominance is to eat up all of the smaller fish. Acquisitions can fend off potential competitors by absorbing them. Acquiring startups can also cease the sales of their products used by competitors.

Below, you can see the top 10 companies that have acquired the most AI startups since 2009:

1. Google

Google bought 30 companies and spent $3,876,340,000 in acquisition costs in the past ten years. They are:

  • Neven Vision – United States (2006)
  • Teracent – United States (2009)
  • Plink Search – United Kingdom (2010)
  • Clever Sense – United States (2011)
  • PittPatt – United States (2011)
  • Numovis – United States (2011)
  • Boston Dynamics – United States (2013)
  • Bot & Dolly – United States (2013)
  • DNNresearch – Canada (2013)
  • Holomni – United States (2013)
  • Industrial Pereception Inc. – United States (2013)
  • Meka Robotics – United States (2013)
  • Redwood Robotics – United States (2013)
  • Schaft – Japan (2013)
  • Wavii – United States (2013)
  • Vision Factory – United Kingdom (2014)
  • Nest Labs – United States (2014)
  • Jetpac – United States (2014)
  • Emu Messenger – United States (2014)
  • Dark Blue Labs – United Kingdom (2014)
  • Deep Mind – United Kingdom (2014)
  • Revolv – United States (2014)
  • Timeful – United States (2015)
  • Granata Decision Systems – Canada (2015)
  • Moodstocks – France (2016)
  • Api.ai – United States (2016)
  • Kifi – United States (2016)
  • Halli Labs – India (2017)
  • Kaggle – United States (2017)
  • Onward – United States (2018)

2. Apple

Apple bought 18 companies and spent $886,000,000 in acquisition costs in total.

  • Siri – United States (2010)
  • Polar Rose – Sweden (2010)
  • Cue – United States (2013)
  • Novauris – United Kingdom (2013)
  • Concept.io – United States (2014)
  • VocalIQ – United Kingdom (2015)
  • Perceptio – United States (2015)
  • tuplejump – India (2016)
  • Emotient – United States (2016)
  • Turi – United States (2016)
  • Flyby Media – United States (2016)
  • Lattice – United States (2017)
  • RealFace – Israel (2017)
  • SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) – Germany (2017)
  • Asaii – United States (2018)
  • Silk Labs – United States (2018)
  • Laserlike – United States (2019)
  • Drive.ai – United States (2019)

3. Facebook

Facebook bought 12 companies and spent $1,060,000,000 in acquisition costs in total.

  • RecRec – United States (2011)
  • Face.com – Israel (2012)
  • Wit.ai – United States (2015)
  • Zurich Eye – Switzerland (2016)
  • FacioMetrics – United States (2016)
  • Masquerade Technologies – Belarus (2016)
  • Ozlo – United States (2017)
  • Dreambit – United States (2018)
  • Bloomsbury AI – United Kingdom (2018)
  • CTRL-labs – United States (2019)
  • Grokstyle – United States (2019)
  • Servicefriend – Israel (2019)

4. Microsoft

Microsoft bought 12 companies and spent $690,000,000 in acquisition costs in total.

  • Firefly Network – United Kingdom (1998)
  • Entropic – United States (1999)
  • Colloquis – United States (2006)
  • Netbreeze – Switzerland (2013)
  • Aorato – Israel (2014)
  • Equivio – United States (2014)
  • Genee – United States (2016)
  • SwiftKey – United Kingdom (2016)
  • Maluuba – Canada (2017)
  • Bonsai – United States (2018)
  • Lobe – United States (2018)
  • Semantic Machines – United States (2018)

5. Amazon

Amazon bought nine companies and spent $871,000,000 in acquisition costs in total.

  • Yap – United States (2011)
  • Kiva Systems – United States (2012)
  • evi – United Kingdom(2013)
  • Ivona – Poland (2013)
  • Orbeus – United States (2015)
  • Angel.ai – United States (2016)
  • Graphiq – United States (2017)
  • harvest.ai – United States (2017)
  • Dispatch – United States(2019)

6. Intel

Intel bought six companies and spent $776,000,000 in acquisition costs in total.

  • Indisys – Spain (2013)
  • Saffron Technology – United States (2015)
  • Itseez – United States (2016)
  • Movidius – United States (2016)
  • Nervana – United States (2016)
  • Vertex.AI – United States (2018)

7. Salesforce

Salesforce bought six companies and spent $97,799,999 in acquisition costs in total.

  • Prior Knowledge – United States (2012)
  • Tempo AI – United States (2015)
  • MinHash – United States (2015)
  • MetaMind – United States (2016)
  • PredictionIO – United States (2016)
  • Bonobo AI – Israel (2019)

8. Twitter

Twitter bought five companies and spent $629,000,000 in acquisition costs in total.

  • MADBITS – United States (2014)
  • TellApart – United States (2015)
  • Whetlab – United States (2015)
  • Magic Pony Technology – United Kingdom (2016)
  • Fabula AI Limited – United Kingdom (2019)

9. AOL

AOL bought four companies and spent $191,700,000 in acquisition costs in total.

  • Convertro – United States (2014)
  • Gravity – United States (2014)
  • Sociocast Networks – United States (2015)
  • velos – United States (2015)

10. IBM

IBM bought four companies but not disclosed how much money they spent on acquisition costs.

  • Cognea – United States (2014)
  • Explorys – United States (2015)
  • AlchemyAPI – United States (2015)
  • Expert Personal Shopper (XPS) – United States (2016)

As AI continues to become more of a necessity within tech companies’ strategies, it’s clear that they are also recognizing the value of acquiring both AI startups and established companies. In the next 10 years, we should expect to see the possibilities around AI advance significantly; whilst the magnitude of what AI has transformed already seems to be beyond any of our expectations, it is still arguably in its infancy. It’s simply no surprise that tech companies are continually seeking to expand their expertise by acquiring these startups.

As AI technology continues to grow and develop, the race for the businesses acquiring the most AI startups is only expected to speed up. Google is winning by an impressive advantage so far, but how long until Apple, Microsoft, or another corporate giant overtakes them?

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