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As Google Buys Fitbit, A Look At Its M&A And Investment History

Today Fitbit, a maker of wearable fitness-focused sensors, announced that it will be acquired by Google for $2.1 billion. Fitbit has become one of the best-known names in the world of wearables, with products such as a smartwatch and fitness trackers.

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The announcement isn’t shocking as Reuters broke the news earlier this week that the deal was in the works. Plus, the two companies announced in April 2018 that they would “work together to innovate and transform the future of digital health and wearables.” The deal certainly gives Google an instantly larger footprint in connected, wearable devices, as noted by my colleague Joanna Glasner.

While Fitbit is a public company, the transaction prompted us to take a closer look at Google’s historical M&A and investment activity. What we found is that the Fitbit deal marks the company’s fifth known acquisition this year. That appears to be a slightly slower pace of purchasing when compared to 2018, when Google made nine known acquisitions, according to Crunchbase data. In its 21-year history, Google has made 236 known acquisitions.

As you can see in the chart below, Google’s pace of acquiring has actually slowed markedly in recent years. In 2014, it picked up 31 companies (its record, according to Crunchbase data).

In 2019, Fitbit aside, Google has picked up a few venture-backed startups and one non venture-backed company: Socratic, a mobile learning app, for an undisclosed amount. If we rewind during the year, we can see that It also paid $200 million for Elastifile, a cloud storage company that had raised $74 million in funding this July.

Google also acquired Looker, an analytics startup that had raised $280.5 million in funding, for $2.6 billion in June. And it bought Alooma, a cloud migration platform with $15 million in funding, for an undisclosed amount in February.

Investments

When it comes to investing, however, Google doesn’t appear to have slowed down. In fact, it’s only speeding up its check writing. The company has invested in 17 companies in 2019 so far, according to Crunchbase data, outpacing its 16 known investments made in 2018. This year, marks Google’s busiest when it comes to investing so far, as you can see in the chart below.

Overall, since its inception, Google has made 100 known investments, leading 42 of them. The company has definitely picked up its pace in the past couple of years. In 2017, it made just 10 investments.

Most recently, in early October, Google put money into India-based delivery startup Dunzo’s $45 million Series D. It also participated in data-cleaning platform Trifacta’s $100 million Series E in September. Over the years, it’s also backed Indonesian “Super App” Gojek more than once.

It’s interesting to see that Google’s acquisition pace is slowing, while its investment pace is picking up. We’ll see if the trend continues.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Charts: Jason D. Rowley

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