Apple typically buys smaller companies from time to time for their talent or specific technologies but rarely comments on the deals. But now, Tim Cook himself has said in an interview with CNBC that his company has snapped up 25 startups in the past six months.
The CEO said that Apple buys a company every two to three weeks on average, having bought approximately 20 to 25 companies in the last six months alone.
Apple often doesn’t announce these deals because the companies are small and Apple is ‘primarily looking for talent and intellectual property,’ Cook told CNBC’s Becky Quick in an interview from Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting over the weekend.
Here’s what Cook said:
If we have money left over, we look to see what else we can do. We acquire everything that we need that can fit and has a strategic purpose to it. And so we acquire a company on average, every two to three weeks.
One of the best examples of Apple’s acquisition strategy is its purchase of the startup behind the Siri voice assistant, which itself was a spin-off from a project originally developed by the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center as an offshoot of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA)-funded CALO project.
A more recent example is Texture, a digital magazine subscription startup that the iPhone maker purchased in 2018 for a reported $485 million. The iPhone maker even announced that deal with an official press release because it was clearly important to them. Indeed, a few months later Texture served as a basis for Apple News+, a new digital magazine and newspaper subscription service which launched in April and is available in the News app.
Texture will shut down later this month.
The company’s largest acquisition in recent memory was its $3 billion deal to acquire Beats Electronics, including the Beats headphones business and the streaming service that became Apple Music. The rate of these acquisitions deals seems to have accelerated lately because just a few years back the Cupertino firm was buying about two-dozen startups per year.
According to Apple’s latest earnings report, the company still has $225.4 billion in cash on hand which highlights its massive purchasing power. Some analysts have said that some of that money should be used towards making a major transformative acquisition deal.
Apple considered buying Time Warner, but analysts have long been calling for an Apple/Netflix deal. Something that could make even more sense is an acquisition of Disney.
The Mickey Mouse house recently announced its upcoming video-streaming service, dubbed Disney+ and packed with premium content, aggressively priced at just seven bucks per month.
At any rate, Disney certainly has the clout and financial might to spend whatever it takes to unseat Netflix. Apple, too, is coming out with its own streaming product in the fall, and they’re calling it Apple TV+.