Google slammed the brakes on its acquisition machine, with the lowest dealmaking since 2009
According to Google's 10Q quarterly earnings report, filed Thursday, Google's acquisitions in the first nine months of 2015 totaled $250 million.
For a company like Google, which has $72.8 billion in cash and short-term securities on its balance sheet, and which in recent years has been known to acquire companies at a pace of one a week, this is a significant slowdown.
What's more, none of the deals struck so far in 2015 were big enough that Google was required to break out the price it paid.
By comparison, in the first nine months of 2014, Google spent $1.1 billion on non-named acquisitions, plus $2.5 billion on smart appliance maker Nest, $517 million on Dropcam, and $478 million on satellite company Sky box Imaging.
That was clearly a big year in M&A for Google. But the company generally spends a hefty amount on deals in recent years. To wit:
- 2013 (first nine months): $369 million in non-named M&A, plus $969 million for Waze
- 2012 (first nine months): $1.1 billion in non-named M&A, plus $12.4 billion for Motorola Mobility
- 2011 (first nine months): $502 million in non-named M&A, plus $676 million for ITA Software, $151 million for Zagat, $114 million for Daily Deals Gmbh
- 2010 (first nine months): $626 million in non-named M&A, plus $179 million for Slide, $681 million for AdMob, $123 million for On2 Technologies
None of these numbers include equity investments from Google or its venture arm, Google Ventures.
The M&A slowdown comes as Google has transformed itself into the Alphabet holding company, which separates various Google projects such as fiber-based Internet access and Nest into separate companies.
It also comes as new CFO Ruth Porat has taken steps to make Google more disciplined about its spending, and to return some cash to shareholders through buybacks.
Stock buybacks, slowing M&A. Perhaps this is the new Google. Or perhaps Google is just taking a breather on its acquisitions to digest all the companies it has swallowed up over the years.