No industry in the world undergoes more mergers and acquisitions than the computer industry. Huge fortunes can be amassed in the matter of a few years, and equally vast fortunes are habitually lost, as big companies throw shareholders' money at spotty Herberts barely out of puberty, let alone school, to get their hands on what they think will be 'the next big thing'.
It's little surprise, therefore, that tens of billions of dollars, pounds and euros are lost every year in ill-conceived acquisitions or integration plans that throttle the life out of acquired companies.
Some takeovers that were pretty bad, or pointless, haven't made the cut. EBay's pointless 2005 purchase of Skype for $2.6bn is one example. Apparently, the strategic rationale was that many buyers would rather talk to sellers than communicate by email. Wrong.
But ultimately eBay simply threw away a packet of cash, selling it on at a loss for $700m to a bunch of private investors, who somehow managed to wangle $8.5bn out of Microsoft before cackling all the way to the bank.
So, here is V3's definitive and highly partial list of seven catastrophically bad tech takeovers. HP, Microsoft and Steve Ballmer are all liberally included.
And if there are any we've missed, or unfairly included, or you feel Steve Ballmer has been unfairly traduced, feel free to flame away below the line.
7. News Corp buys Myspace for $580m, 2005
Before there was Facebook there was Myspace. Strictly speaking, there was also GeoCities, Friends Reunited, Friendster and a whole lot of other online rubbish cluttering up cyber space. But Myspace was the first proper social network to really catch on.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp therefore got in early when it threw $580m in used notes at the company, which hadn't even been going for two years, outbidding Viacom. News Corp saw Myspace as a vehicle for expanding into online, principally making the acquisition pay via advertising. Lots and lots of advertising.
Commendably, News Corp didn't ruin the company straightaway and two years later, on the back of a strong growth in users, it was valued at $12bn, while Facebook remained largely focused on students.
However, News Corp's lust for cash got the better of it. A three-year advertising deal with Google positively slathered the site in ads, slowed it down and made it (even more) horrible to use, not that the execs at Fox Interactive Media really cared while the money was spinning. Nor did they care about the phishing, malware, spam and other annoying stuff that went down on Myspace.
The users did, however, and defected en masse to Facebook and other social media platforms. Or got a life.
Murdoch, meanwhile, was annoyed that Myspace never cracked $1bn in annual revenues and gave it the cold shoulder before selling the emaciated carcass for $35m to some outfit called Specific Media.
Remarkably it's still going, in that there's still a Myspace website, although why anyone would want to use it is a mystery (notwithstanding the recent hack of the company's log-ins and passwords).
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