Facebook, Google, Microsoft et al routinely make 'talent acquisitions'.
In the last 10 years, Google has made 93 acquisitions
- the majority of these have been to get their hands on the talented founders and teams who have built some technology or have demonstrated such a capability. 75 of these acquisitions have been in North America and most of these in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Microsoft have made 140 acquisitions in the last 20 years - again the vast majority in the US.
Yahoo made 62 acquisitions in 15 years - only 10 outside the US.
Even the new kid on the block, Facebook, has made 14 buys - 10 in the US.
The possible answers to why the predominance of targets are US based are these:
1. They have better engineers in the US. [this I very much doubt - though no doubt I'll be corrected]
2. Tech companies in the US are building stuff targeted to be bought by one of the big boys.
3. If you're going to buy a company for their talent - you want to keep that talent and integrate it with your own operations or development teams.
4. The eco-system is such that the corporate development teams know the startups and vice versa. Not just know them but meet regularly at the many events and in the coffee bars on University Avenue and elsewhere.
5. Buying a talented team elsewhere (ie outside the US) is risky - there is the cultural gap, the legal hurdles, the distance, the time shift etc
These transactions - 250 of them between just the 3 mentioned - power the whole ecosystem. The funds generated for the founders, the VCs, the LPs are considerable and get recycled in a sometimes perfect virtuous circle.
So, where are all the Euro based talent acquirers?